Jesus The Healer (Mark 1)

“And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her. And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them.” (Mark 1:29-31)

The first chapter of the Gospel of Mark concludes with a series of miracles performed by Jesus. After leaving the synagogue in Capernaum, the Lord Jesus and His disciples enter into the house of Simon Peter whose mother-in-law is sick with a fever. Notice what the disciples do: they speak to Jesus about her. This should be a natural course of action for every believer concerning sickness; we ought to speak to Jesus about those in our own lives afflicted with sickness and disease. Let us go to the Great Physician in prayer, lifting up those who are sick to Him, asking for His healing touch.

Consider also what Peter’s mother-in-law does after the Lord heals her. She “waits on” Him and the other guests in the household. The term used here literally means to serve or to minister to. How remarkable! She did not expend her restored health on leisure and idleness, but she set about to serve the One Who had healed her. So often we pray for God’s healing in our own lives, but to what end? Do we wish to be healed so that we might serve the Lord in strength and vigor, or are we praying for God to heal us so that we can pursue our own interests without being in pain?

“When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. And the whole city had gathered at the door.” (Mark 1:32-33)

Some Bible scholars have pointed out that Mark often employed hyperbole as a literary device. He would use expressions like “the whole city” to mean a great multitude of people and not, literally, the whole city. Be that as it may, we can be certain that, wherever Jesus went, large crowds followed. Multitudes. Throngs.

Sometimes we get the idea that the Gospel writers recorded all or at least most of the miracles and healings that Jesus performed. But it seems that the intention of all four of the Gospel writers was to record a sampling of the miracles that Jesus worked and not to suggest that their writings included every miracle of the Lord. John, in his Gospel, tells us:

Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;  but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:30-31)

and again,

“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they *were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself *would not contain the books that *would be written.” (John 21:25)

The Gospels contain just a few examples of the healings and miracles of Jesus. It is most likely that the Lord Jesus literally healed thousands of people during His earthly ministry.

 And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” (Mark 1:40-41)

The leper mentioned here recognized that it was not the ability of Jesus to heal that was in question, it was merely His willingness to heal that mattered. Jesus was often moved by the faith of those who had no doubt that He was able to heal. The Centurion who asked only that the Lord say the word for his servant to be healed was commended for having a rare and pure faith that Jesus had not seen amongst the Hebrews (Matthew 8:5-13). He, like the leper mentioned in this passage of Mark, never called into question the Lord’s ability to heal. Interestingly, Matthew wrote of the Centurion immediately after he wrote of this leper. Both of these men trusted that the Lord Jesus had the power to help them. And, as they both saw, the Lord was willing also.

To God goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published Jan. 30, 2015]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible  (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?”]

At The Synagogue In Capernaum (Mark 1)

“They *went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach.” (Mark 1:21)

Jesus was born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth, but it seems that He chose Capernaum as His home during His ministry (cf. Mark 2:1, Matthew 4:13). The Lord’s teachings were summarily rejected in His own hometown of Nazareth (Luke 4:16-31) thus sending Him elsewhere to establish His base of operations, as it were. Capernaum was a much more prominent city within the region, serving as a commercial center for the Galilean fishing industry and billeting a Roman garrison. Jesus’ words and actions within the synagogue here elicited a very different response from that in Nazareth. For in this city the people were amazed, not enraged, by His preaching.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke all reference Capernaum as the location where Christ’s ministry really began; particularly His miracles. And Mark and Luke both focus on the Lord’s activities within the city’s synagogue as its point of origin. The Gospel of Mark paints the portrait of Jesus Christ the Servant of God, but the writer is also dutiful to establish His authority over all matters, physical and spiritual. The Servant, Jesus Christ, is also the Creator and, as such, retains all power and authority over His own creation.

Within the very first chapter of Mark, we see Christ’s authority over sickness (vv. 31 and 34), disease (vv. 41-42), the demonic (v. 25), and even Satan himself (v. 13). Jesus teaches with authority, Mark records, expositing authoritatively His own Word and Scriptures. Verse 22 highlights the fact that the Jewish religious scholars of the day taught by the authority of those who preceded them, quoting and referencing the masters of Judaic theology who had lived in times past, never daring to presume the weight of their own rhetoric with their listeners. Yet the Lord Jesus Christ was the very Author of the Words on which He commented! He alone retained the prerogative of resting on His own authority when teaching on their meaning.

Mark will reveal throughout his Gospel that the authority of Jesus Christ is complete and total over all His creation. He commands the winds and the seas and they obey Him (Mark 4:41). He is Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28). Even death itself must yield to the authority of the Lord Jesus (Mark 5:41-42). By the time the reader gets to the Resurrection of Jesus, there should remain no doubt in their mind that the One Whose authority was pervasive over all other aspects of His own creation could just as easily conquer the grave.

 “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.” (Mark 1:23-24 KJV)

First, let us consider where the man possessed by the unclean spirit was. Was he imbibing strong drink with the drunkards at a tavern? Was he visiting with a harlot at a house of prostitution? Or perhaps conspiring with thieves and murderers in the dens where such men hide? No. He was in the synagogue! Let us never suppose that Satan and his minions lurk only in the shadows and frequent the places where evil is openly practiced. Their work of deception is carried out within the places of worship; it is the houses of God where the forces of Hell battle for control of the hearts of people. Of all places on earth, where was the devil on the eve of Christ’s crucifixion? He was not in Herod’s palace or Pilate’s judgment hall. Nor was he in the meeting place with the Sanhedrin as they conspired to arrest the Lord. Neither was he in the prison cell with Barabbas or the two thieves whose destinies would intersect with the Lord’s. No, he was in the upper room with Jesus and His disciples as they celebrated the Passover and partook of the Last Supper (John 13:27).

The demon then challenges Jesus with the words, “What have we to do with Thee?” This expression can be found in the Old Testament as a call for justification on the part of an aggressor by the one who is being threatened. Jephthah’s envoy asks a similar question of the Ammonites in Judges 11:12. David used the phrase to Abishai to stay his hand when he sought to vindicate the king’s honor when Shimei cursed him (2 Samuel 16:10). And the widow spoke like words to Elijah, fearing that he had been sent by God to torment her by convicting her of sin through the death of her son (1 Kings 17:18).

Even so, we also sense within the demon’s query a sort of recognition of the vast chasm which exists between the Kingdom of Light and that of darkness. The Apostle Paul, speaking of marriage between believers and non-believers, would reflect this sentiment in his axiom, “What fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). There exists such a huge expanse between the Lord Jesus Christ and this simple foot soldier in the army of Hell that the demon himself must have been astonished to suddenly be thrust into the presence of God Almighty. The unclean spirit seemed to be aware of his own fate, and that of his fellow fallen angels, by asking if this was the time set aside for his destruction at the hands of the Lord.

Finally, we have what might be the most potentially confusing aspect of this entire encounter (along with subsequent encounters between Jesus and the demonic, such as those mentioned in verse 34). Why would Jesus silence the demons who recognized Him and declared Who He was? Wouldn’t He welcome their testimony verifying His identity? I believe there are two reasons why He disallowed their “witness.”

First, Jesus would fulfill His purposes according to the will of the Father and based on His own timing and methods. Jesus did nothing haphazardly and without purpose and specific motive. He could have just as easily arrived on the scene, shouting from the rooftops, “I am the Messiah, the Holy One of God!” But Jesus’ purpose in casting out the demon was to reveal His authority, not His divinity. He sought to verify His teachings through His miracles so that people would first believe what He said and would trust Him based on that. Later would come the Holy Spirit’s authentication within the heart of Who Jesus really was (cf. Matthew 16:17). Jesus came, not as the conquering King, but as the suffering Servant and He would draw people to Himself through His words and His work of Salvation. Jesus did not come to force people into submission through the declaration of His power as God. We looked at the Lord Jesus’ exercise of authority over many things, but never do we see Him exercising His authority over the hearts and will of men.

Secondly, Jesus neither wanted nor needed the testimony of Hell. James reminds us that the demons know and acknowledge Who Jesus is and they tremble because of it (James 2:19). But their concession is made, not in faith, but merely as the recognition of that which is true. They are not trusting on Christ nor believing Him for Salvation, they simply are making a mental assent to the fact of Jesus’ divinity. Make no mistake, when a demon cries out in recognition of Jesus’ identity, it is for his own evil purposes. He is not paying homage to Christ as Lord, but is seeking to frustrate the purposes of God.

But the Pharisees were saying, “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.”” (Matthew 9:34)

“The Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” ” (John 8:48)

Jesus would have enough accusations brought against Him that He was in league with Satan. He did not need demons going about “witnessing” for Him. The Apostle Paul had a similar motivation when he cast out the demon from the slave-girl possessed by a spirit of divination (Acts 16:16-18). The demon was accurately testifying that Paul and his companions had come to preach the Way of Salvation. But Paul cast out the demon, silencing its testimony because he did not want or need the help of Satan and his minions as he sought to make converts in a land which had not yet heard the Gospel.

To God goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published Jan. 8, 2015]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible  (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?”]

The Manna Ceased (Joshua 5:12)

“The manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the sons of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate some of the yield of the land of Canaan during that year.” (Joshua 5:12)

The daily appearance of the Manna in the Wilderness was nothing short of miraculous. The Manna itself is a reminder that, regardless of whither our Lord shall lead us, He will provide for all our needs when we faithfully walk in His will. Even if He must employ inexplicable and miraculous means, God will never leave us without. The Lord is our Shepherd, we shall know no want.

Even so, this passage in the Book of Joshua reveals that God, though capable of operating in His Universe without any limitations on behalf of those who are His own, seems to prefer the ordinary, the mundane, and the visible over the extraordinary and sublime. Within the pages of Scripture we find no instances of a miracle of God performed without distinct purpose and seldom is a miracle implemented when other, more conventional methods are readily available. Our Lord is a wonder-working God possessing unfathomable supernatural abilities, yet He does not frivolously execute miracles for the entertainment and amusement of His creation. Neither will God endlessly bolster a superficial and tenuous faith with a ceaseless cavalcade of astonishing acts of Divine power. Our faith is to rest on the Person of Christ and what He has done for our Salvation, not upon His ability to impress us with His wonders.

God poured out the Manna from Heaven because no other sufficient source of food was available in the barren Wilderness through which the Children of Israel passed into Canaan. If grain had been plenteous in that land, we may be certain that God would have directed His people to partake of it. But it was not. Thus the Manna began to appear daily in the camp and continued to do so as long as it was necessary. The time came, however, when the Hebrews entered into the Land of Promise and ate of the yield of Canaan.

In our own walk with the Lord, our flesh continues to crave the sensational, the spectacular; our fascination with the strange and wonderful seeks to be gratified. But it is not the miraculous and supernatural which needs to be emphasized in the Body of Christ today, it is the preaching and study of His Word. Many believers are contented to keep their eyes fixed on the sky, waiting for the Manna to fall in their midst when all the while the Lord is wanting them to eat the “natural food” to which they already have access. God cares too much for our spiritual growth to forever spoon-feed us that which satiates our curiosity yet leaves our souls growling with hunger.

To eat the yield of the land, that is, to come before the Lord in an attitude of prayerful expectation as we open our Bibles even as He opens the eyes of our understanding requires effort and work on our part. But that is the way that God intends for it to be. Remember, the generation that first partook of the Manna was that same generation which perished in the Wilderness. Apparently the supernatural provision of daily food was not enough to subdue hearts bent on rebellion.

Finally, let us consider that the cessation of the Manna in no way meant that God was no longer working tirelessly on behalf of the Hebrews. For in the very next verse of Joshua we have the revelation of the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus as the Captain of the Hosts of the Lord. Neither was the end of Manna the end of God’s miraculous intervention for the Israelites because the conquest of Jericho is related in the following chapter. God’s powerful, wonder-working hand is always laboring for the welfare, safety, and provision of His people, either visibly or invisibly. We do not see the Captain of the Hosts of the Lord marching with the Hebrews around Jericho, but surely He was there among them. It was He Who would cause the walls of the city to collapse.

When the Holy Spirit speaks through His Word to a heart desperately seeking answers and to know Him better, is this any less of a “miracle” than a physical sickness being healed? When the Word of God brings light to a heart plagued by darkness, is this less of a work of the Lord than speaking in an unknown tongue? And when the Lord Jesus Christ turns on the light of understanding in a person who has rejected Him time and time again, the Gospel penetrating a lost soul through the preaching of Scripture and bringing the life of Salvation where before only death reigned, is this less significant than even an actual bodily resurrection would be?

To God goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible  (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?”]