Hello there, maranatha, and praise the Lord! Welcome to my website! Thanks so much for dropping by. I pray that the moments we spend together around God's Word will benefit, bless, and change you.

My name is Gaylord Diaz. I was born and raised on the tiny island of Guam, America's  westernmost territorial frontier in the Pacific Ocean.

Educationlly, I have a B.A. in General Science from the University of Guam and an M.A. Religion in Biblical Studies from the Anderson School of Theology located in Anderson, Indiana. Religiously, I was saved as a young boy in Junior High School and was almost immediately aware of God’s call to serve Him and His church as a Bible teacher. I attended the First Church of God, located in Barrigada, Guam (a.k.a. Pacific Ocean Mission), an affiliate of the Church of God denomination, Holiness Movement, headquartered in Anderson, Indiana.

Ministerially, I am a Spirit-filled Pastor/Teacher by calling, entrusted with a whole counsel, life-changing Bible ministry. It has been my great honor and privilege to serve the Lord for forty years in various church leadership and ministerial capacities. Gifted with an insatiable desire to know God and His Word, these Gospel studies are the result of my years of service, study, and fellowship at the feet of Jesus. If you enjoy these studies you may be interested in reading an assortment of studies on my blogsite at gaylordsblog.com. I am very happily married to the former Carma Snavely and blest with six amazingly wonderful children—Edgar James, Ana Marie, Melissa Victoria, Elijah Ben, Laura Nicole, and Abigail Rose; we currently reside in Ligonier, Indiana.

WHAT DO I BELIEVE? I guess I can go down the line and tell you everything I believe. But do you know how long that would take? I’m on a schedule! So to simplify things quite a bit, let me say that everything I believe stems from my approach to Scripture. Namely, God said what He meant and He meant what He said. I take God at His Word. What’s figurative is figurative. And it’s meant to be understood figuratively. But, in the main, the Scriptures are literal. And they need to be interpreted literally, linguistically, culturally, dispensationally, and contextually. I let Scripture interpret Scripture. So if the Scriptures say it or teach it, then that, in a nutshell, is what I believe. I know that may not be entirely to your liking because it just isn’t specific enough. But if it really bothers you, drop me an email and ask me where I stand on a particular verse or doctrine and I’ll do my very best to get back to you in a timely manner.


FNOut of all the Gospel writers, only John uses the term Word in reference to Jesus. He uses it in four verses of Scripture: John 1:1, 14, 1 John 1:1, and Revelation 19:13. Word is a translation of the Greek term Logos, which literally means ‘reason’ or ‘word’. Just as a word expresses a thought, so Jesus is the expression of the thought, or mind, of God. He declares, or makes known, the God whom no man has ever seen (John 1:18). [1]

FNMatthew deviates from Jewish custom by including five women in his genealogy. With the exception of Mary, these women were all Gentiles with less-than-honorable histories: (1) Tamar, who played a harlot, Genesis 38; (2) Rahab, who was a harlot, Joshua 2; (3) Ruth, who laid by night at the feet of Boaz, Ruth 3; and (4) Bathsheba, with whom David committed adultery, 2 Samuel 11. [2]

FNIn order to divide his genealogy into three sections of fourteens, Matthew omits several names in the second and third fourteens. A complete genealogy may be obtained by referring to 1 Chronicles 1-9. The third fourteen has only thirteen names. Jehoiakim should have been inserted between Josiah and Jeconiah (Matthew 1:11 with 1 Chronicles 3:15). In Hebrew, the numerical value of David’s name is fourteen, which may explain why Matthew chose to arrange his genealogy in groups by that number. [3]

FNMary was Heli’s daughter. In keeping with genealogical practice, when a man had no sons to carry on his line of descent, that line is carried on through his daughter; in which case, the daughter’s name is omitted and her husband’s name is placed in the record. Hence, Joseph is not Heli’s son, but rather, his son-in-law. [4]

FNGenealogy is very important to the Jews.

(A) In Old Testament times, family descent determined where a person could live. By Divine law, the promised land was divided and settled according to family tribes, Numbers 26:52-56, 33:54. Hence, members of a tribe lived within the land allotted to their tribe.

(B) The right of redemption belonged only to near kinsmen, Jeremiah 32:6-12, Ruth 4. And

(C) after the return from Babylonian captivity prospective priests were required to show their priestly descent, otherwise they were barred from the priesthood, Ezra 2:62. [5]

FNWho is Theophilus? Many scholars believe he was a high-ranking government official as evidenced by Luke’s use of the phrase Most Excellent. He was either of Greek or Roman descent and was a friend or acquaintance of Luke. Evidently, Theophilus had received some instruction concerning Jesus and it was now Luke’s purpose to supplement that instruction with a start-to-finish account of Jesus’ life for the spiritual benefit of a man whose name means lover of God.

Was Theophilus a Christian? Quite possibly. But there is reason to believe that he was not yet a believer at the time Luke wrote this Gospel account. In this introduction, Luke addresses Theophilus as Most Excellent. Now historians tell us that before the third century A.D. this title was never used with respect to believers. When Luke wrote his following history of the expansion of Christianity, the title Most Excellent is dropped (Acts 1:1). In all good probability, then, Theophilus got saved after reading Luke’s Gospel account—which explains why Luke did not address him as Most Excellent in the Book of Acts. [6]

FNIn David’s time, the priests were divided into twenty-four courses. Each course would serve on a rotational basis twice a year, performing their duty as priests in the Temple. The length of each service was one week. The course of Abijah was the eighth course, 1 Chronicles 24:1-19. Only four courses returned from the Babylonian exile, Ezra 2:36-39. In order to preserve the original arrangement of courses, the returning four courses were redivided into twenty-four courses and given the name of that course. [7]

FNThe chosen priest is accompanied into the Holy Place by two assistants whom he chooses. In a golden bowl, one carries burning coals from the altar of burnt offering, spreads them on the altar of incense, then reverently retires backwards out of the Holy Place. The other assistant carries the golden censer filled with incense. He arranges the incense on the golden altar, then reverently retires like the first. When the signal is given, the chosen priest takes the incense and puts it on the burning coals, causing a cloud of smoky incense to rise Heavenward, typifying the prayers of God’s people ascending to God. This ceremony was conducted twice each day. The privilege of burning incense unto the Lord was never granted to a priest more than once in his lifetime. Literally, this was a once-in-a-lifetime honor for Zacharias. [8]

FNZacharias' losing his voice just goes to show us that BAD THINGS CAN HAPPEN TO US WHEN WE DON'T BELIEVE THE LORD. UNBELIEF INVITES CHASTISEMENT! If things are going rather badly for you stop and ask yourself if you're not believing something that the Lord has told or shown you. [8a]

FNNazareth appears to be the unlikeliest place to be home of the Messiah and King. Judging from Nathanael’s question in John 1:46, no good thing is expected to come from there. Nazareth is never once mentioned in the Old Testament! The fact that Jesus was a Galilean, Nazareth being a town in Galilee, was sufficient reason for the Pharisees to discount Jesus as a prophet (John 7:52-53). [9]

FNThe name ‘Jesus’ means ‘Savior’. From the start, then, the Messiah of the Jews is more than just a Royal King: He is also a Savior. He is not only a political figure concerned with power or rule: He is also a spiritual figure concerned with saving people from sin. [10]

FNThe Greek term used here for cousin literally means ‘a female relative’. Because of the age difference between the two women, some scholars believe Elizabeth was Mary’s aunt. [11]

FNThe town’s name is not given here. However, given the fact that Zacharias and Elizabeth were of Levitical descent, it is somewhat probable that they lived in Hebron since that was a Levitical city (Joshua 21:11). If this is the case, the journey from Nazareth to Hebron involved at least 85 miles. [12]

FNThe following song of Mary is a very poetic one and alludes to a number of passages in the Psalms. The song is known as Mary’s Magnificat because the first word in the Latin version of this song is Magnificat anima mea Dominum, My soul magnifies the Lord. The song resembles that of Hannah’s in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. [13]

FNThis is the first of many Old Testament prophecies that Matthew cites. It is taken from Isaiah 7:14. The crucial difference between Isaiah and Matthew is the use and understanding of the word virgin. The term that Isaiah uses is almah, meaning a young girl of marriageable age. In many places of Scripture, the term is translated maiden. For example, read Genesis 24:43, Psalms 68:25, Proverbs 30:19, among others. Almah is not used with respect to married women. Another term that the prophet could have used, but didn’t, is bethulah, meaning a virgin. In applying this prophecy to Mary, Matthew refers to Mary as a virgin. The Greek term used here, parthenos, is the equivalent of the Hebrew bethulah and thereby underscores the miraculous and supernatural conception of Jesus. [14]

FNAll Hebrew males were required by God to be circumcised. The father performed the act. By the time of Christ, however, circumcision was performed by a priest in the Temple or local synagogue. Circumcision was a token that the boy was a part of the covenant nation, hence, he was bound to observe the covenant laws of God. If a man was not circumcised he was excommunicated from the nation: he was not considered a part of the covenant people. [15]

FNThis song of Zacharias is also known as The Benedictus, taken from the Latin, Benedictus esto Dominus Deus Israelis, Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel. It closely resembles Jewish prayers, especially the EIGHTEEN BENEDICTIONS, which were prayed when lots were cast to determine who among the priests was to offer and burn incense unto the Lord. [16]

FNBelieving and obeying the Lord sometimes brings its own set of troubles. It's Satan's way of trying to stop us from believing and obeying God by making things so much harder or more painful for us. But when we're already troubled and under the suffering of chastisement, like Zacharias was, IT'S TRULY AMAZING HOW THINGS GO SO MUCH BETTER WHEN WE BELIEVE AND OBEY THE LORD. [16a]

FNNote the use of the past perfect tense here. Both Zacharias and Elizabeth know that Messiah has already been conceived. He's coming! He's on the way! [16b]

FNHis original name was Gaius Octavius, though he is commonly known as Octavian. He was a grandnephew of Julius Caesar. In Caesar's will, Caesar named Octavius his son and heir to the throne. Octavius then changed his name to Gaius Julius Caesar. In 27 BC, the Roman senate gave him the title of Augustus, meaning 'majestic or highly revered', hence the name Augustus Caesar. Emperor worship had its beginning under his reign. Upon his death in AD 14, his stepson Tiberius succeeded him to the throne. [17]

FNThe birthplace of Jesus, the King of the Jews, was also the birthplace of another king, King David. Bethlehem, which means House of Bread, is referred to in 1 Samuel 20:6 as David's city, for it is here that David was born and raised. It is located about six miles southwest of Jerusalem and was formerly known as Ephrath or Ephrata (Genesis 35:16,19, 48:7, Micah 5:2). Bethlehem in Judea is to be distinguished from another town by that name located in the lower part of Galilee (Joshua 19:15). The Church of the Nativity, Christianity's oldest church, was built in Bethlehem by Helena, Emperor Constantine's mother, in AD 330. Under the church is a cave which tradition states is the birthplace of Jesus. Nazareth and Bethlehem were separated by 71 miles, but with the standard detour around Samaria by way of the TransJordan, Joseph's and Mary's journey to Bethlehem involved anywhere from 80 to 90 miles and took, at the very least, three days to make. [18]

FNSwaddling comes from the Greek word meaning 'to wrap with strips'. In this instance, Mary wrapped the Baby in strips of cloth. [19]

FNThe manger is no royal crib. It is literally a feeding trough that animals ate out of. [20]

FNWhen Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem there was no place anywhere for them to stay. It was customary for relatives to put up visiting relatives, but apparently, even relatives had no room for them. Every available room in town was taken. The only option left was a stable where animals were kept. In this instance, which is not at all unlikely, the stable was a cave. In his Dialogue with Trypho, chapter 78, Justin Martyr (AD 114-165) refers to a certain cave where the travelers from Nazareth stayed. Though the ordeal was rather frustrating and humbling, if not humiliating, we must learn to be thankful for what God provides. What God provides, my friends, is sufficient and adequate. Until other accommodations and provisions open up, be content with what God has given today.

Of all the Gospel writers, only Luke narrates this account of the lowly birth of Jesus. Wishing to depict Jesus’ humanity, Luke shows us the humbling circumstances in which Jesus was born. Jesus is not just for the rich and famous: He is also for the poor and outcast of society. Perhaps now we can better understand Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 8:9, For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. [21]

FNIn the synoptic Gospel accounts—that being Matthew, Mark, and Luke—this is the only place where Jesus is called Savior. In John 4:42, the Samaritans also acknowledged Jesus as being the Savior of the world. [22]

FNThe angels refer to the Baby that was born as Christ. Now this title is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Messiah. In effect, the Heavenly hosts of angels are proclaiming that, after all these years of time, Messiah has finally come to Earth! The hope of Israel has finally come to pass! This truly was Good News! Who is Jesus? Friends, let the angels speak. He is Messiah—fully human as evidenced by His birth as a Baby in Bethlehem. And He is also Divine Lord! [23]

FNStop and think about this for a minute. You would think that God would use respected, credible people to proclaim the Gospel—people who the public could easily trust and believe—so that believing would be easy and many would believe. But who does God use? He uses lowly, contemptible shepherds. Consider also that God kept His Word: Messiah was born of a virgin in Bethlehem. But the details are so completely contrary to what we would expect: a royal capitol, a royal couple, a royal birth, and royal heralds to announce the birth. Contrary to human expectation, the Messiah, Savior of the World, King of the Jews, and Son of God, was born to commoners from Nazareth, in a stable of all places, and in a town that was small or lowly among the clans of Judah. Suddenly, believing isn't so easy. No wonder the people of Bethlehem were amazed! BRETHREN, YOU'LL HAVE A HARD TIME BELIEVING WHEN YOU ASSUME GOD WILL DO THINGS YOUR WAY. IF YOU LEAVE THE DOOR OPEN FOR GOD TO DO THINGS HIS WAY YOU WON'T HAVE A HARD TIME BELIEVING. [24]

FNI just hate it when people make a big deal out of something that isn't. Some people nitpick stuff that, in the grand scope of things, really aren't that important. SOME THINGS JUST AREN'T WORTH FIGHTING OVER. The date of Christ's birth fits in this category. I'm blest to have finally learned one of life's important lessons, that being, to be true to your own convictions and to respect other people's convictions no matter how disagreeable they may be.

Having said this, let me hasten to say that Jesus is Truth. Christianity is a religion based on Truth, not lies. I believe Christians ought to be follow what is true. Sometimes, as in the present instance with Christmas, the truth needs to be brought to people's attention and Christians should, at the very least, prayerfully consider what I believe is the truth about the date of Jesus' birth. As I pointed out, the truth of Jesus' birth lies closer to the Fall and definitely not in Winter, and that's why I personally don't celebrate Christ's birthday on Christmas. [24a]

FNAshur was one of Jacob’s sons and his was one of ten tribes that was taken captive by Assyria when the northern kingdom of Israel was conquered. These ten tribes are commonly referred to as the “Ten lost tribes” because there is no record or mention of them returning to Israel from Assyrian captivity. The fact that Anna was a descendant of Ashur gives evidence that the so-called lost tribes were not completely lost. Evidently, some of these Israelites made their way back to Palestine. Also, the fact that Luke is able to tell her descent gives evidence that even these “lost” Israelites kept some kind of genealogy. [25]

FNThis is the first time that Jesus is referred to as King of the Jews. The title is not used of Him again until Crucifixion Week when Pilate and the Roman soldiers addressed Him as such (Matthew 27:11,29,37 with parallel references). Interestingly enough, the only people who openly acknowledged Jesus as King of the Jews were heathens. (The closest the religious leaders came to acknowledging Him as King was when they derided Him on the cross as being the supposed King of Israel, Matthew 27:42). [25a]

FNHerod had ten wives, but his favorite was Mariamne I. Now Mariamne I came from the distinguished family of Mattathias Hasmon, the Jewish priest who began the revolt for the liberation of Palestine from Syria. Upon his death, his sons carried on the revolt. The most famous of these sons was Judas, surnamed Maccabeus—hence, the name Maccabean Revolt. After Judas' death in battle, two other brothers carried on the revolt, culminating in the declaration of Jewish independence in 142 BC. This independence lasted almost seventy years and during this period of time the Jews were ruled by the Hasmonean family of High Priests and Kings. When Herod married Mariamne, he united the Jewish Hasmonean family with what would become the Idumean Herodian family. The marriage spelled the beginning of the end of the Hasmonean dynasty. Regarded as threats to his rule, the Hasmoneans met their death at the tip of Herod's sword. [26]

FNBy this time, Joseph and Mary had found a house to stay in. So you don't like the stable you’re in? Take courage, my friends, God's got a house for you! [27]

FNTheir act of worship is not to be interpreted as a sign of conversion, but simply as an act of homage: these wise men were paying their respects to One whom they acknowledged was a King. [28]

FNOrigen was perhaps the first to symbolize the meaning of these gifts: (a) gold for a King; (b) frankincense (literally, pure incense) for God; and (c) myrrh for Man. If you recall, myrrh was used in preparing Jesus' mortal body for burial (John 19:39,40). Based on these three gifts, many have surmised that there were three wise men, these wise men were kings, and their names were Melchior, Balthasar, and Caspar. The Scriptures, however, simply do not confirm these surmisings. [29]

FNGod speaks to heathens, as well as believers. {A} In some instances, the heathens to whom God speaks recognize the fact that God has spoken to them and they act obediently or in accordance with the revelation. King Cyrus is one Old Testament example who set the Jews in Babylon free to return to Palestine and build a Temple for the Lord (Ezra 1:1-4). {B} At other times, God speaks, but the heathen does not know it is God speaking. Pharaoh had a dream, as also the baker and butler (Genesis 40 & 41), and it took a man of God, Joseph, to interpret the dream. {C} Others are recipients of Divine revelation, but they regard the dream as simply a bad omen. In the New Testament, Pilate's wife was troubled in a dream, which convinced her that Jesus was a just and innocent Man (Matthew 27:19). [30]

FNWhy Egypt? It was the closest place to Bethlehem that was outside the reign and jurisdiction of Herod. Simeon's word of prophecy was already beginning to come to pass: the sword was piercing Mary's soul (Luke 2:35). Although we don't exactly know where Joseph and Mary stayed in Egypt, or how long they stayed there, there were Jews who lived there (Jeremiah 43:7, 44:1, Acts 2:10). Chances are, Joseph and Mary lived among them, although this is certainly a matter of conjecture. [31]

FNNotice the immediacy of Joseph's obedience. He did not question the angel's directives and he did not hesitate to obey. Brethren, learn to discern and listen to the voice of the Spirit. When trouble is threatening on the horizon and the Lord speaks to you, obey the Lord right away! What the Lord is telling you to do is meant for your safety and well-being. Your unquestioning, immediate obedience can spell the difference between life and death. [32]

FNThe word 'mocked' (Greek empaizo) means what it means: to make fun of, ridicule, or mock. Although the wise men were in no way mocking the King, this is nevertheless how Herod interpreted their failure to report back to him. By disobeying him they were making fun of him. [33]

FNGod sure is smart. He knows what He's doing. Why didn't He send Joseph and his family to a neighboring town? Why all the way down to Egypt? Because He knows Herod isn't going to confine his slaughter of the babies in Bethlehem: he's going to kill every baby boy who was anywhere near close to Bethlehem. If Joseph was like some of us, he would have gone to the next town and, being night and tired, he could have stopped there and stayed. At least he was out of Bethlehem! But God told him to go to Egypt and that's exactly what Joseph did. HE OBEYED GOD FULLY OR COMPLETELY. And, as a result, Jesus wasn't killed! Friends, you may not always understand or agree with God's orders. But obey them to the letter because God knows what He's doing. He knows things you don't. DO WHAT GOD SAID, NOT WHAT YOU THINK IS GOOD ENOUGH. [33a]

FNDoes this mean that Jesus was two years old at the time His parents fled into Egypt? Not necessarily. Because Herod's calculation involved a wide margin of time to insure the death of the infant King, we would be a lot closer to the truth by assuming that Jesus was only a few months old at this time. [34]

FNJesus’ birth, then, would have taken place in 5 BC. [35]

FNHerod had several wills. The last one was the one enforced by Rome. Upon his death, Herod willed that his kingdom be divided among his sons: Herod Antipas would become Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea; Philip, Tetrarch of Iturea, Trachonitis, Gaulanitis, Auranitis, and Batanea; and Archelaus, Ethnarch of Judea, Idumea, and Samaria. [36]

FNWhile nothing is said concerning the religious instruction or educational system in Nazareth, the prevailing custom of the day was as follows. It was the parents', particularly the father's, responsibility and obligation to teach their children (Deuteronomy 11:19, 32:46). A boy was entrusted to his mother's care for the first five years of life. After that time, the father would then begin teaching his son a trade or vocation, and he would also begin teaching him the Mosaic laws and all aspects of religious duty and instruction. In addition to the regular Sabbath meetings in the local synagogue, the Chazzan (Officer of the synagogue and Keeper of the Scrolls) and other religious teachers would conduct classes in the synagogue during the rest of the week. Only boys would attend these classes. They were not divided into age groups. There were no textbooks, hence, memory, reading, and dialogues between teacher and students were the primary methods of learning. The teacher would sit cross-legged on a small platform; the scrolls of Torah (the Old Testament Law or the five books of Moses) would sit on a rack in front of him; the students would sit on the ground in a semicircle, facing their teacher (Isaiah 30:20). The Torah alone was taught until the boys were about ten years old; boys between ten and fifteen were taught the Mishnah (traditional law of the rabbis). Those older than fifteen who wanted to continue and pursue religious instruction were sent to theological schools or academies where Israel's greatest and most respected rabbis taught. Jesus did not attend this latter form of higher learning. Instruction in the Scriptures usually began with the Shema, the creed of Judaism found in Deuteronomy 6:4-5. Then came Deuteronomy 11:13-21 and Numbers 15:37-41, followed by the Hallel Psalms (Psalm 113-118), the Creation story (Genesis 1-5) and the Laws of Sacrifice (Leviticus 1-8). The Prophets and Hagiographa (Poetic Books) would complete the course of study. Instruction did not consist merely in memorization and recitation, but consisted also of question-and-answer dialogues between teacher and students. School was in session year round. During the hot summer months, classes would last no more than four hours; if the weather was too hot, classes were called off altogether. It should be stressed that school did not consist merely in the acquisition of knowledge. Great emphasis was placed on the teaching and development of moral character and righteous behavior or conduct. Pious Jews would have some portions of the Scriptures in their home. Since the Old Testament scrolls had to be laboriously copied by hand, only the wealthiest of families could afford to have a copy of the entire Old Testament. Because Jesus had such a thorough knowledge of the Old Testament, it would not be unreasonable for us to assume that Joseph and Mary had a copy of the entire Scriptures in their home. [37]

FNBy law, women were not required to attend the Feasts. However, some rabbis—Hillel being among them—encouraged women to do so. The fact that Joseph and Mary both went to the Passover Feast indicates that they were a religiously devout couple. [38]

FNAlthough Joseph was afraid to live in Judea because of Archelaus (Matthew 2:22), by the time Jesus was twelve years old, the political climate in that region had changed. Unimaginably, Archelaus surpassed his father in cruelty and wrongdoing, prompting the Jews and Samaritans to complain to Rome. In 6 AD, after a nine-year reign, Rome banished him to Gaul. Judea, Samaria, and Idumea were incorporated in the Roman province of Syria and were ruled by a Governor or Legate. At this particular time in history, Quirinius was Legate of the province. Under the Legate, Procurators were appointed to rule over particular regions of the province, notably in Judea. The first of these Procurators to rule in Judea was Coponius and it was during his administration that this visit to the Temple occurred. Also at this time, Quirinius appointed Annas as High Priest in Jerusalem. [39]

FNThe law required compulsory attendance at the three great Feasts. However, because of the dispersion of the Jews and the great distances involved, not all Jews came to Jerusalem for each of these Feasts. The prevailing custom was to attend at least once a year—many of whom chose to come to Jerusalem for the Passover. [40]

FNIn the strictest sense of the law, personal observance of the ordinances and feasts began when a boy became a "son of the law." This momentous time was known as bar mitzvah and it occurred when a boy turned thirteen years old. As a matter of practice, however, the bar mitzvah was anticipated by one or two years. That is, on the first Passover after the boy reached his twelfth birthday, he would be taken to Jerusalem to acquaint him with the Temple and its Feasts. Whether Jesus went to the Temple with His parents in previous years is not known. Prevailing opinion is that this was the first time Jesus visited the Temple—first, that is, since His presentation there as a young Babe (Luke 2:22-38). [41]

FNThe Feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread were observed in succession and lasted for a period of seven days (Exodus 12:15-16, 23:15, Leviticus 23:6, Deuteronomy 16:3). Personal attendance at the Temple was required for the first two days of the Feast, after which Rabbinic teaching allowed a person to return home. While it is perfectly conceivable that Joseph and Mary stayed in Jerusalem for the entire duration of the Feast, the circumstances recorded here in Luke 2:41-50 favor a departure from Jerusalem after the two days of compulsory Temple attendance had passed, namely, (a) it took the better half of a whole day to find Jesus in Jerusalem, implying that the city was still crowded with visiting worshippers, making it harder to find Him; and (b) when Joseph and Mary found Him, Jesus was in the midst of the doctors of the law. While teaching in the Temple's porches or terraces was not restricted to Sabbaths or Feast Days, it was during these days that members of the Temple and Sanhedrin would come and teach "from morning to night." The fact that Jesus spent three days in Jerusalem without His parents, presumably in the company of these teachers in the Temple, gives indication that the Feast was still in progress. [42]

FNIn later times, it was customary for the women and children to travel at the front of the caravan, while the men and older boys made up the rear. If this was the case during the time of this journey to Jerusalem, it is understandable how Mary could assume that Jesus was with Joseph at the rear, and how Joseph could assume that Jesus was with Mary at the front. [43]

FNThey spent one day traveling towards Nazareth, one day traveling back to Jerusalem, and on the third day, they found Him. Thus, Jesus was by Himself for two full days and the better part of a third. [44]

FNThese are the first-recorded words of Jesus. In the Greek text, He said to His mother, "Why were you searching for Me? Didn't you know I must be about the things of My Father?" In other words, there really was no need to search high and low for Him. There was only one place Jesus could be: in the Temple, going about His Father's business. This idea of must, or necessity, is found many times in Luke: I must preach (4:43), I must suffer (9:22), I must walk (13:33), I must stay with Zacchaeus (19:5), I must be delivered up, crucified, and resurrected again (24:7), I must enter into My glory (24:26), all these things must be fulfilled (24:44). Jesus knew what He had to do and, even at this early age of twelve, He proceeded to do His Father's will.


FNVerse 51 is the last time Luke refers to Joseph. We don't know what became of him. Presumably, he died before Jesus began His public ministry. If this is the case, since Jesus was the oldest of the children, and since there is no mention of Mary marrying again, it is then likely that Jesus worked as a carpenter to help support the family. In these years of preparation, Jesus’ spiritual inclination and preparation did not preclude Him from ordinary human duties and responsibilities. Brethren, in this time of preparation, don't despise the fact that you have to work or maintain a family. These sorts of things are a part of the preparation! [46]

FNLocusts were one of only a handful of insects that the Israelites were permitted to eat, Leviticus 11:22. [47]

FNAccording to law, those who were Levitically defiled had to immerse themselves in water before they could offer sacrifice. This immersion symbolized cleansing from defilement. Lev. 14:1-9, Num. 19:11-19. [48]

FNAll converts to Judaism were required to observe three cardinal rites: circumcision, baptism, and sacrifice. [49]

FNThe Pharisees and Sadducees were the two most prominent religious parties in Jesus' day. Evidently, they came into being sometime during the inter-testamental period. The Pharisees were believed to be descendants of an earlier group of pious Jews called Hasidim. After Alexander the Great conquered the then-known world (336-323 BC), he sought to unite his empire in a common language, custom, and civilization. This attempt to Grecianize the conquered world, including Palestine and the Jews of the dispersion, was known as Hellenization. When Palestine came under the rule of the Seleucids of Syria and the Ptolemies of Egypt, the Hellenization of the Jews remained an unwavering goal. Rome, too, continued this trend toward Hellenization. The Hasidim resisted this trend, as also did the Hasmoneans. Gradually, however, the Hasmoneans lost more and more interest in the religious heartbeat of the Jews and became more political and secularized. The Pharisees rose as a religious party dedicated to keeping Judaism pure.

The Sadducees, in contrast, were more an aristocratic party of wealthy, influential Jews who were not hostile to Hellenization. Generally speaking, the High Priest was a Sadducee. It is believed that the Sadducees were descendants of Sadok, whom Solomon made High Priest (1 Kings 2:35). Up until the time of the Hasmons, the High Priestly office remained in the family of Sadok. [50]

FNAccording to the Talmud (Sanh. x.1), all Israelites had part in the world to come by virtue of their descendency from, and identification with, Abraham. Being an Israelite was sufficient assurance that one would not enter into judgment and wrath. In fact, Abraham is represented in one place as sitting at the gate of Gehenna to deliver any Israelite who might have been consigned to that judgment. The principal idea of the Rabbis that is repeated many times in their teachings is the merits of the Fathers. That is, the righteousness of the nation's Fathers—Abraham and Moses for example—avails for the entire nation and brings upon every Israelite God's goodness, both in this world and in the world to come. John boldly and fearlessly came against this popular, but mistaken, belief. From him we learn that TO SAVE GOD'S PEOPLE YOU'VE GOT TO EXPOSE AND COME AGAINST WRONG, MAN-MADE DOCTRINES. People won’t know what’s wrong unless the preacher tells them what’s wrong. The doctrines that pervert & threaten people’s salvation & souls are the doctrines that we’ve got to denounce the most & the loudest. [51]

FNSalvation is presented in terms of repentance and bearing good fruit (that is, living righteously). This is before Christ’s public appearing, message, and ministry. John can’t say Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved because Jesus hasn’t appeared yet. All John is saying is, If you’re God’s child or Abraham’s son, you’d better live righteously. If you’re not living righteously, you’ll be damned even tho you’re consider yourself God’s child or Abraham’s son. The real test of divine sonship is departing from iniquity: 2 Tim. 2:19, 1 Pet. 2:9-12, 1 John 1:5-6. If you're a real, true Christian you will depart from sin. If you desire to sin and gravitate towards it, it's time to examine your sonship or membership in God's family. What kind of fruit are you producing? The fruit is the proof. It says it all. If the fruit of your life is bad it's time to get off your duff and get things right with the Lord. Remaining as you are will get you burned. [51a]

FNNow it's important for us to note that when John answers the people's question, What shall we do?, he is not saying that good works is how a person gets saved. He is not teaching salvation by works. John is preaching on the need for repentance and the need to bring forth fruits that indicate one has truly repented. In other words, if a person has truly repented, his conduct or behavior changes, he doesn't continue being the person he has always been, but he lives a new kind of life—a life of righteousness or good works. [52]

FNBesides this understanding of the necessity of Jesus’ baptism, another understanding is altogether probable. A priest of Israel entered the priesthood when he turned 30 years old, Numbers 4:3. His initiation into the priesthood involved a ritual bathing, followed by his anointing of oil by the High Priest, and finally, by the sacrifice of a bullock and ram and a heave offering. These altogether constituted the priest’s consecration to the priestly office, Exodus 29 and Leviticus 8. Here at the banks of the Jordan River, a 30 year-old Jesus is about to begin His public ministry and He has come here—as Israel’s greatest High Priest ever—to be consecrated to His priestly office: (1) First He is baptized or bathed. (2) Then He is anointed by the Father—not with oil, but with the Holy Ghost. And (3) at the end of His life He Himself will be sacrificed as the Lamb of God to make expiation and atonement for the sins of the world.

In retrospect, from John's point of view, the baptism made manifest the Messiah who was heretofore kept from the public's eye: And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water (John 1:31). Up until this time, Jesus was tucked away in Nazareth. But with the baptism, Jesus is, for the first time, revealed to Israel as the Messiah, the Son of God. In what way was Jesus revealed to be the Messiah? By the signs that accompanied His baptism. [53]

FNAn important lesson for us here is, DON'T LET OTHER PEOPLE STOP YOU FROM DOING WHAT YOU KNOW IS GOD'S WILL. Explain it to them, if necessary. But don't let them stop you from obeying the Lord.

On the other hand, don’t be too proud or too humble that you prevent your brothers and sisters from obeying the Lord.

The mode of baptism is not given. We assume, on the basis of the word's meaning and later Christian practice, that Jesus was fully immersed when He was baptized. [54]

FNThe voice from Heaven is heard only three times in the Gospel story: first, here at Jesus' baptism; second, at Jesus' transfiguration (Matthew 17:5); and third, the week before His crucifixion (John 12:28). Here also we have a manifestation of the Divine trinity: God the Son being baptized, God the Holy Spirit descending upon Him, and God the Father speaking audibly about His Son. [55]

FNOf all the Gospel writers, only Matthew and Luke record the details of Jesus' temptation. The two accounts vary slightly. (a) In Matthew, Jesus is tempted after His forty-day fast. In Luke, Jesus is tempted throughout the fast, culminating with the three-fold temptation after that fast. (b) Matthew records something that Luke doesn't, namely, the fact that angels came and ministered to Jesus after the temptation. Luke, on the other hand, records something that Matthew doesn't, namely, the fact that Satan left Jesus for a season, thereby implying that Jesus was tempted on other occasions during His earthly ministry. (c) In Matthew, Jesus is first tempted to turn stone into bread, then He is tempted to jump off the pinnacle of the Temple, and finally, He is tempted with regards to the kingdoms of the world. In Luke, the order of the latter two temptations is reversed: Jesus is first tempted with the kingdoms of the world, then He is tempted to jump off the pinnacle of the Temple. It would appear from Matthew's use of the words then, afterward, then, again, then, and then (Matt. 4:1-11) that Matthew's account reflects the true chronology and order of Jesus' temptation. [56]

FNThere are times when the Devil comes to us unasked or uninvited and tempts us. Then there are times when we place ourselves in a position to be tempted; we’re asking to be tempted. And there are times when the Spirit of God leads us into temptation, as in the case of Jesus here. Make no mistake. When the Spirit leads us into temptation it is not so that we will sin. God does not tempt us to sin, James 1:13. While it is God’s will that we, at various times, be tested and tried; we must nevertheless remember that it is the Devil who does the tempting.

Take note of the fact that Jesus’ temptation followed right on the heels of the Spirit coming upon Him and the Father testifying of His beloved son, Matthew 3:16-17. Friends, when you’re on the mountain top in your walk and communion with God and the Spirit is really moving in your life, beware of the Devil. He’s not going to sit idly by and let you enjoy the Lord. The Devil tempts on the mountain top, as well as in the valley. He tempts in the good times, as well as the bad. He tempts you when you’re really spiritual and close to God. And he tempts you when you’re lukewarm, fleshly, and distant from God. [56a]

FNNo one is immune from Satan's temptations—not even Jesus. Satan dared to come against the Son of God and it is certain he will come against you and me. Now Satan tempted the Lord even when he knew he could not, and would not, succeed in getting Jesus to sin. But Satan still tried! You may think yourself to be perfect in a given area of life. And you may well be. In this area, let's say, the temptation to fornicate, you may be perfect: there's no problem, no lust, no doubts, no use trying to get you to fornicate. In this one area of life, you are beyond temptation—that is, the temptation really is no temptation, Satan's not going to succeed, because you're dead to that lust. WHILE YOU MAY TRULY BE DEAD AND PERFECT AND BEYOND TEMPTATION IN A GIVEN AREA OF LIFE, THIS DOESN’T MEAN THAT SATAN WON'T TEMPT YOU IN THAT AREA. Fail though he may, he will nonetheless try. Adam was perfect. Jesus was perfect. But Satan tempted them anyway! The lesson is, even though you're dead and perfect, Satan will still try to tempt you—that’s why you need to always be on guard against him. Even though you know you're bound to win, keep on guard and fight the Devil back! The Devil doesn't give up easily! [57]

FNIt’s interesting to note that, just as history began with a temptation relating to food (the forbidden fruit in Eden), so Jesus' temptation began the same way: with food. The first Adam gave in to the temptation: he wasn't hungry, he had all kinds of food available to him, and he lived in a Garden Paradise. Jesus, on the other hand, was very much hungry, He had no food available to Him, and He was in a barren desert wilderness. In Jesus' case, the need was much greater. But Jesus prevailed and overcame. The second Adam succeeded where the first Adam failed. [58]

FNJesus refused to do what He had the power to do, namely, turn the stones into bread. Brethren, He could have done it! But for Jesus, being faithful to God was more important than gratifying a physical need or pain—though that need or pain may be great indeed. Friends, if gratification and relief mean everything to you, if they are what matters the most to you, you'll give in to the Devil and fall every time. THE FACT THAT YOU HAVE A LEGITIMATE NEED DOES NOT, IN ITSELF, LEGITIMIZE THE THINGS YOU DO TO GRATIFY, ALLEVIATE, OR FULFILL THAT NEED. As we see later in Matthew 4:11, when the testing is done, God will minister to your need: the need will not go unfulfilled! [59]

FNNo exact spot is given here. Some surmise that it may have been the top of Herod's Royal Portico, which was the outermost part of the whole Temple complex. It overlooked the Kidron Valley, some 450 feet below. According to tradition, James, our Lord's brother, was hurled to his death from this spot. [60]

FNYou think Satan doesn't know the Word? My friends, he knows the Word and can quote it from memory! When he uses the Word against you, take note of two things. First, check the accuracy of Satan's quotation. In this instance, he left out a small part of Psalm 91:11 that he was quoting, namely, to keep thee in all thy ways. Brethren, watch for what the Devil leaves out! People argue against tongues, healing, and the rest of what they don't like or agree with in Scripture; and they do so by refusing to quote everything the Bible says about the matter in dispute. Oftentimes, WHAT'S LEFT OUT SETTLES ALL DISPUTE. Notice that what Satan quoted was true: Satan was quoting Scripture, he wasn't making it up or twisting it. Brethren, just because Satan is quoting you a true and valid Scripture, doesn't mean you should listen to him and do what he wants you to do.

And this brings me to the second thing you need to do when Satan is quoting you the Word: you've got to discern why the Devil is using that Scripture against you. In this instance, Satan was using the promise of God's protection to get Jesus to act foolishly or presumptuously and jump off the pinnacle; he wanted Jesus to put God to the test and see if God would really do what He promised to do. Brethren, one thing is certain: God will do what He promised to do, our God is faithful! But you can't be presumptuous. Don't succumb to the Devil and put yourself in a position where you do something foolish or stupid just for the sake of seeing whether or not God will do what He promised.

The point is, Satan quotes Scripture all the time and he does so in an attempt to get you to sin. One example is, he'll quote you Psalm 37:4, He will give you the desires of your heart. What does Satan want you to do with that promise? He wants you to become materialistic and covetous. Just as the promise of protection in Psalm 91 is not a license for you to jump off the pinnacle, neither is the promise of provision a license for you to become covetous. [61]

FNThe command not to tempt the Lord your God was spoken by God, through Moses, to the Israelites. It's interesting to note that Jesus takes this command to the Israelites and applies it to Satan. The prohibition given to the Israelites applied equally as well to Satan: Satan was not to tempt the Lord his God.

Take note of the last two words of God's, and Jesus', command: your God. I would like to think that Satan, seeing himself as being his own god, would never confess God as being his God. Yeah, God may be God, but as far as Satan was concerned, God wasn't his God. It's like many today who don't believe in God or acknowledge the God of Jews and Christians as being their God. Some other god is their god.

Friends, no matter who your god is--you may not even have, or believe in, a god--the God of Jews and Christians sees Himself as being your God. You can reject God all you want and disown Him. But as far as God is concerned, He is still your God and He still commands you to obey Him--in this instance, Do not tempt the Lord your God. JUST BECAUSE YOU DON'T SEE GOD AS BEING YOUR GOD DOESN'T MEAN YOU DON'T HAVE TO OBEY HIM. GOD STILL EXPECTS YOU TO OBEY HIM! [61a

FNJesus had faith and He had the promise of Psalm 91. But at the same time, He also had the command of Deuteronomy 6. Even though Jesus had faith and a promise, He did not use these in such a way that He would end up disobeying God (by jumping off the pinnacle and putting God to the test). Brethren, WHEN THE DEVIL IS TEMPTING YOU TO DO SOMETHING, EVEN BACKING IT UP WITH SCRIPTURE, THE PROPER THING TO DO IS, DON'T DO IT! Simply put, even though you may have scriptural grounds to do something that Satan wants you to do, it may not necessarily be the right thing to do! Even something so scriptural can be an act of presumption, disobedience, or tempting the Lord. Brethren, YOU'VE GOT TO OPERATE WITHIN THE WHOLE COUNSEL OF SCRIPTURE AND TAKE THE WHOLE OF SCRIPTURE INTO ACCOUNT WHEN YOU'RE PONDERING A COURSE OF ACTION. As I said in the footnote above, God promised you the desires of your heart (Psa. 37:4). But that promise must be balanced with the command not to be greedy or covetous (Luke 12:15). The lesson here is, EVEN THOUGH YOU HAVE FAITH AND A PROMISE TO STAND ON, THAT DOESN'T MEAN YOU SHOULD DO WHAT THE DEVIL IS TEMPTING YOU TO DO. It's one thing to believe the Lord: it's another thing entirely to tempt Him, or disobey His command. [62]

FNWhat does the Devil want from you? Your worship and allegiance. It might seem like such a small thing to give him when you look at everything you're bound to get from him. Sure, Satan can give you whatever you want. But the best that Satan has to offer you comes at such a high and terrible price. You see, your soul and your worship or allegiance are tied together: you worship and serve the Lord, you live in eternity with the Lord; you worship and serve the Devil, you live in eternal perdition with the Devil. Your soul belongs and goes to whoever you give your worship and allegiance. My friends, an eternity in the fires of Hell just isn't worth everything or anything the Devil has to give you. The best he has to offer you just can't compare to the best God gives to those who believe and obey Him. [63]

FNThe command to worship the Lord your God was spoken by God, through Moses, to the Israelites (Deuteronomy 6:13). It's interesting to note that Jesus takes this command to the Israelites and applies it to Satan. The prohibition given to the Israelites applied equally as well to Satan: Satan was to worship the Lord his God.

Take note of the last two words of God's, and Jesus', command: your God. I would like to think that Satan, seeing himself as being his own god, would never confess God as being his God. Yeah, God may be God, but as far as Satan was concerned, God wasn't his God. It's like many today who don't believe in God or acknowledge the God of Jews and Christians as being their God. Some other god is their god.

Friends, no matter who your god is--you may not even have, or believe in, a god--the God of Jews and Christians sees Himself as being your God. You can reject God all you want and disown Him. But as far as God is concerned, He is still your God and He still commands you to obey Him--in this instance, You are to worship the Lord your God. JUST BECAUSE YOU DON'T SEE GOD AS BEING YOUR GOD DOESN'T MEAN YOU DON'T HAVE TO OBEY HIM. GOD STILL EXPECTS YOU TO OBEY HIM! [63a]

FNOne of the things that makes Satan's temptations so appealing is the fact that you can have it NOW. What Satan has to offer you may not be wrong, in and of itself; there's nothing wrong with being healed or having a house. What makes it so wrong is, when Satan gives it, he gives it his way--not God's way. God's way is faith and obedience; Satan's way is arm of flesh. My friends, if you'll be faithful and wait on God, you'll get what you need or want--God's way, God's time. The redeeming value of faith is, once you've claimed it by faith, you know you have the answer, you'll definitely get it in God's time, and you can spend the rest of your time going about the business of God's kingdom. FAITH FREES YOU FROM WORRY. IT DELIVERS YOU FROM IMPATIENCE. [64]

FNNotice the effect the quoted Word had on Satan. In every instance, Satan couldn't say anything more about what he was saying to Jesus. The Word silenced all his arguments and debates. Brethren, THE BEST WAY TO GET SATAN TO QUIT TALKING IS TO SIMPLY QUOTE HIM THE WORD. Your logic and conversation, like those of Eve, only keep Satan talking all the more. But a simple quotation of God's Word will silence him. Brethren, YOU CAN'T SILENCE THE DEVIL UNLESS YOU QUOTE HIM THE WORD. AND YOU CAN'T QUOTE HIM THE WORD IF YOU DON'T KNOW OR MEMORIZE THE WORD. Scripture memorization is not to be shunned as a matter of intellectual pride: it's not a matter of showing everybody how smart you are because you can quote or recite a lot of verses. Rather, Scripture memorization is a tool of spiritual warfare: it's how we fight and overcome Satan (see Ephesians 6:17 and Revelation 12:11). In this temptation, then, we see how well Jesus prepared during His many years of preparation. He knew and memorized the Word! [65]

FNThis word mused means 'to think and reason things out thoroughly; to argue or dispute'. The people gave it a lot of thought. They were divided. Some believed John was the Messiah, others didn't. [66]

FNIn John's Gospel account, the term Jews does not necessarily refer to the people in general, but specifically, to the rulers of the people, the religious leaders and all those who comprised the Sanhedrin or Supreme Court of the Jews (John 7:1, 9:22, 18:12-14). In all likelihood, then, these who came from Jerusalem to question the Baptist were sent by the High Priest and Sanhedrin. [67]

FNIt should be noted that John not only knew who he was: he also knew who he wasn’t. Brethren, you may be somebody with a gift, or a calling, or a ministry. Don't get a vaunted, distorted view of yourself and think you're somebody you're really not. [68]

FNSome manuscripts which are regarded as being the best read Bethany instead of Bethabara. It's not the same Bethany in Judea where Lazarus, Mary, and Martha lived. In his New Testament Commentary, William Hendriksen identifies this Bethany as being on the east side of Jordan, about 13 miles south of the Sea of Galilee and about 20 miles southeast of Nazareth. [69]

FNThe reference is that of a slave who would stoop down and untie his master's sandals. According to a popular saying of the day, the difference between a slave and a disciple is, a disciple would do everything a slave does, except untie his master's sandals. Apparently, John didn't even consider himself a slave who was worthy enough to untie Jesus' sandals. Here, then, we see John's humility. [70]

FNOf all the Gospel writers, John alone records the significant events that transpired during Jesus' first full week in ministry. John's chronology begins with the deputation of priests who had come from Jerusalem to question him concerning his identity and his baptism (John 1:19-28); this was the first day. The next day of verse 29 begins the second day; again the next day of verse 35, the third day; the day following of verse 43, the fourth day, and the third day of 2:1, the seventh day. [71]

Now the timing of these events center around the marriage feast in Cana. The Jewish custom of the day was as such. Virgins or maidens would marry on Wednesdays; and widows, on Thursdays. Elaborate festivities or celebrations were generally absent from the wedding of a widow. The fact that the marriage feast in Cana was well-attended and celebrated gives every indication that this particular marriage was that of a maiden, hence, it took place on a Wednesday.

Counting back seven days, we have this chronology: (a) John the Baptist met with the priestly deputation from Jerusalem on Thursday, which, incidentally, was Jesus' last full day in the wilderness following His fast and temptation (John 1:19-28). (b) The next day, Friday, Jesus appeared by the Jordan River and it was here that John publicly proclaimed Him as being the Lamb of God (John 1:29-34). (c) On Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, two disciples of John followed Jesus and became His first disciples (John 1:35-42). (d) The following day, which was Sunday, Jesus began His journey back to Galilee, enlisting Philip and Nathanael into His company of disciples (John 1:43-51). (e) Three days later, on Wednesday, Jesus and His disciples attended the wedding feast in Cana (John 2:1-11). [71]

FNDuring the course of his ministry, John the Baptist told his hearers and followers about a Man who would come after him who was much greater than himself. As a forerunner and herald, John pointed the people's attention to Someone greater. When John saw Jesus amongst the crowd, approaching him, then for the first time, in Jesus' presence, he declared to all that this Jesus was that Man! "The Man that I told you about has finally come! He's here! And He's standing in your midst!" Now the phrase preferred before me speaks of rank: Jesus is greater than John, He is preeminent over him. The phrase for he was before me speaks of time and it's the reason for Jesus' preeminence: Jesus was preeminent because He was, He existed, before John. The allusion is to Jesus' preexistence. Even though John was born before Jesus, came before Jesus, and ministered before Jesus; Jesus was nevertheless preeminent over him because He existed from eternity (see John 1:1,2,15). [72]

FNContrary to what some people and cultists believe, John's statement the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world is not an argument in favor of universal atonement or salvation. That is, since Jesus is taking away the sins of all humanity, it does not automatically follow that all humanity will be saved. The atoning sacrifice of Christ makes salvation available to all humanity, but for humanity to receive or partake of that salvation, a person must believe and receive Him (John 1:12, 3:16). [73]

FN How did John know that Jesus the Messiah would also be the sacrificial Lamb? The only way he could have known that was if God Himself told him. John knows things because he's spent time with God. Brethren, WHEN YOU SPEND TIME WITH GOD HE'LL SPEAK TO YOU AND SHOW YOU THINGS. You get knowledge when you spend time with God! [73a]

FNThese early followers of Jesus addressed Him as Rabbi. This was a term of respect that was used with respect to masters or teachers. Even though they had never heard Jesus teach, indeed, Jesus hasn't yet taught; their address made explicit what was implicit in their hearts, namely, they wanted to become Jesus' disciples or followers. [74]

FNOne sure way to know something is to come along and see for yourself. Philip said the same thing to Nathanael in verse 46, Come and see. I'm all for reading the Bible and books about the Bible. You can learn a lot of things about God & Jesus from books & the Bible. But the only way to have a life-changing education about Jesus is to have a personal encounter with Him: you’ve got to go to Him & spend some time with Him. THOSE WHO KNOW THE LORD THE MOST ARE THOSE WHO SPEND TIME WITH THE LORD THE MOST. THE MORE DISTANT YOU ARE FROM THE LORD, THE LESS YOU KNOW HIM AND THE LESS YOU KNOW ABOUT HIM. We all, Christians included, wrestle with doubts and skepticisms about God and the Bible. That's just the way it is because we're ignorant and don't know it all. But what these followers of our Lord teach us is you only learn some things by spending time with Jesus. You can’t be convinced, persuaded, or settled, about some things without spending time with Jesus & His Word. [75]

FNBy our computation, Andrew and John followed Jesus on a Sabbath, the Jewish day of rest. The Jews computed time in twelve hour cycles: days, from sunrise to sunset, which would be 6 AM to 6 PM; and evenings, from sunset to sunrise, 6 PM to 6 AM. Since a day is clearly in view here (1:39), the tenth hour, then, would be 4 PM. However, the fact that these followers of Jesus abode with him that day makes little sense, since there were only two more hours left in that day. Remembering that John was writing this Gospel account at the close of the first century, to an audience that was predominantly Gentile (John translates Jewish words like Rabbi and Messiah, 1:38 & 41, to words readily understood by Gentiles); it seems more plausible that John reckoned the tenth hour according to Roman time, which would be from midnight to noon, and from noon to midnight. The tenth hour, then, would be 10 AM or 10 PM. Since the events recorded here occurred in daylight, 10 AM seems to be the likely time when Andrew and John had their first personal encounter with Jesus. Spending that day with him gave them enough time to become convinced that Jesus was indeed the Messiah (see 1:41). [76]

FNThe implication of the text in the Greek is that John also went and looked for his brother and brought him to Jesus, but Andrew succeeded in finding and bringing his brother to Jesus first, before John and his brother James arrived. [77]

FNJonas in the Textus Receptus. In other Greek manuscripts, some of which are regarded by scholars as being the best, the father and family name is that of John. The latter name is used in NASB and NIV. [78]

FNIn Jewish culture, names are important. They mean something. Like others in history—for example, Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel, Saul to Paul; the Lord changes Simon's name to Cephas. Now Simon (or Shimon) and Cephas are both Aramaic names. For the sake of his Gentile audience, John translates Cephas as Stone. The Greek equivalent is Peter. [79]

FNOut of all the apostles, only Andrew and Philip have Greek names, though they were Jews. When the Greeks in John 12:20-22 wanted to see Jesus, it is interesting that they first came to Philip. Philip and Andrew then went to Jesus with their petition. [80]

FNPhilip, Andrew, and Simon Peter all came from the same town, Bethsaida, which means House of Fishing. Later on, Andrew and Peter moved to Capernaum (Mark 1:21 & 29). Now with regards to Bethsaida, the Gospel writer identifies it as a town in Galilee (12:21). If this is the same Bethsaida as Bethsaida Julias, it was located at the north-eastern region of the Sea of Galilee. The town itself was situated in Gaulanitis, not Galilee, and was built by Philip the Tetrarch as his capitol city which he named in honor of Julias, daughter of Caesar Augustus. According to C. K. Barrett, The Gospel According to John, 2nd ed., the whole territory around the Sea was referred to as Galilee after the Wars of the Zealots, AD 66-70. If this is so, then it is not unreasonable to assume that John, writing after the Wars, wrote of Bethsaida as currently being a part of Galilee. Not all scholars, however, agree that there was only one Bethsaida. [81]

FNNathanael was from Cana (21:2). His name in Hebrew means God has given, and therefore corresponds to the Greek Theodore, or gift of God. Most scholars identify him as being the Bartholomew mentioned in the other Gospel accounts as being one of the twelve apostles. While the Synoptic writers always refer to Bartholomew and never to Nathanael, John always refers to Nathanael and never to Bartholomew. In John, Philip found Nathanael and brought him to Jesus; in the Synoptics' list of apostles, Philip and Bartholomew are always found together (Matthew 10:3, Mark 3:18, Luke 6:14). The name Bartholomew means Son of Tholmai or Telamyon. [82]

FNNathanel, like all Jews, longed for the Messiah. But the place of Jesus' origin or residence in Nazareth rendered it doubtful to Nathanael that this Jesus of Nazareth was really the Messiah. On the one hand, he wanted the Messiah. But on the other hand, Jesus couldn't be the Messiah because of his connection to Nazareth. Many today have Nathanael's hopes and doubts. They love the message of healing, but grow skeptical when healing is bound up with faith. They love the message of Christlikeness, but wonder when the message is bound with crucifixion of fleshly lusts. They love the message of prosperity, but shudder when the message is bound with persecutions. They love the message of faith and receiving from God, but their hearts faint when the message is bound with trials of faith. [83]

FNNone of the Gospel writers tell of a time when they saw the heavens opened and angels ascending and descending upon Jesus. This, however, does not imply that the promise or prophecy was never fulfilled or that Nathanael never saw what Jesus said he would see. Remembering that Jesus was speaking strictly to Nathanael, it is everywhere consistent with faith to believe that Nathanael got to see the promise fulfilled in his lifetime—even though none other of the Lord's disciples got to see it for themselves. [84]

FNThe Gospel writers and disciples used a variety of titles in referring to Jesus: Rabbi, Lord, Son of God, Christ, etc. But the title most often used by our Lord in reference to Himself is Son of Man (Matthew 8:20, 18:11, Luke 21:27, John 3:14, and elsewhere). [85]

FNThe marriage ceremony and celebration occurred after a man and woman were espoused or betrothed to each other. The length of the betrothal period varied from couple to couple. In the case of a maiden, the period did not exceed twelve months. [86]

FNCana was located about 8 or 9 miles north of Nazareth. It was Nathanael's hometown. [87]

FNMary, the mother of Jesus, is not once mentioned by name in John's Gospel account, although she is three times referred to as the mother of Jesus in this account: here in 2:1, 6:42, and 19:25. In writing his account, John never once mentions himself, his family, or close relatives, by name. Now there were several women who stood at the foot of the cross when Jesus was crucified. John mentions the mother of Jesus and her sister (John 19:25). Although Matthew does not give her name, the mother of James and John was there (Matthew 27:56). Mark mentions a woman by the name of Salome (Mark 15:40). From this, many scholars have concluded that the mother of James and John was Salome, who was also Mary's sister. If the conclusion is accurate, it stands to reason why John would omit the name of a close relative, in this case, his aunt. He never mentions himself, his family, or close relatives, by name. Additionally, if the conclusion is correct, Jesus and the sons of Zebedee (James and John) were first cousins. [88]

FNWine was a part of Jewish way of life. Jesus Himself drank wine (Matthew 11:19). As a whole, wine was not forbidden (x-ref. 1 Timothy 5:23). Its use, however, was regulated with respect to two groups of people: a Nazarite couldn't drink wine for the duration of his vow (Numbers 6:1-4), and a priest couldn't drink it during his performance of priestly service (Leviticus 10:9). Additionally, it was the wisdom of rulers and religious leaders to abstain from wine, lest they become drunken and pervert justice and truth (Proverbs 31:4,5, Ecclesiastes 10:17, Isaiah 28:7, 1 Timothy 3:3, Titus 2:3). Drunkenness was always frowned upon and in the New Testament, God's people are forbidden to get drunk (Ephesians 5:18). For additional comments on wine see AN3. [89]

FNJesus’ hour is repeatedly referred to in this Gospel account as the hour of His suffering, death, and exaltation (John 7:30, 8:20, 12:23,27, 13:1, 17:1). In the context of this wedding feast, it is unlikely that Jesus is referring to His hour to do miracles, since He proceeded to perform one. The likely hour is that of mass popularity and exaltation often associated with miracles: now wasn't the time for fame. This may well explain why Jesus performed the miracle in secret, with the servants alone, and not out in open view where everybody could see it. [90]

FNThese are the last-recorded words of Mary in Scripture. [90a]

FNJohn is careful to note that these jars were made of stone and not of clay or earthenware. According to Maimonides, the respected Jewish scholar, earthen vessels were not used for waters of purification because they themselves could contract uncleanness (see Barrett, p. 191). [91]

FNJohn explains to his Gentile audience one custom of the Jews, namely, that of purification. All Jews were required to wash, bathe, or purify their hands prior to eating. Now purification was a very important part of pious Jewish life and the rabbis had a lot of ordinances attached to that rite. There was more to it than just washing your hands! In fact, the Mishnah is divided into six orders. The last one deals with purification and it is the largest of the orders. The Jews, I am saying, laid great stress on purification. [92]

FNA metretes, or firkin, is a standard of measure for liquids. Each firkin was about 8½ gallons. Since each waterpot held between 2 and 3 firkins, there were about 17 to 25 gallons of water in each pot. Altogether, there was between 100 and 150 gallons of purification waters available for everyone to use at the feast. The fact that so much water was available points to the fact that a lot of people were in attendance at the feast. [93]

FNThe Gospel writers use the words signs, miracles, works, and wonders a number of times. They are translated from three different Greek words: {1} ergon, meaning works; {2} teras, meaning wonders; and {3} seemion, meaning signs. The word used here in verse 11 is seemion. Now in the synoptic writers, seemion is often used when Jesus' critics demanded a sign from Him (Matthew 12:38,39, 16:1, Mark 8:11,12, Luke 11:16, 23:8). False prophets and christs perform signs (Matt. 24:24, Mark 13:22). Furthermore, prior to Jesus' coming and the end of the age, signs would be seen (Matthew 24:30, Mark 13:4, Luke 21:11,25). All in all, the synoptic writers were hesitant to use seemion favorably in reference to Jesus' miracles. John, however, uses the term frequently and he does so favorably—that is, signs were meant to evoke faith (2:11, 20:30). In fact, that's why the Gospel writer cited so many of Jesus' miracles (20:30)! The fact that people still refused to believe in Jesus even after He had done so many signs was John's testimony of the stubborn nature of the people's unbelief (12:37). They were truly set in unbelief that even miracles—a lot of them—didn’t help these people at all! Furthermore, in John's account, it’s interesting to note that some of these signs were performed in the context of a revelation of Himself: (a) Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes, then revealed Himself as being the Bread of Life (John 6); (b) Jesus said He was the light of the world, then He proceeded to heal the blind man's eyes (John 9); and (c) Jesus said He was the resurrection and the life, then He raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11). [94]

FNWhat is Jesus' glory? Jesus’ glory is His reputation manifested in everything about Him, i.e. His love, compassion, non-resistance, etc. But in the context of this miracle in Cana, Jesus’ glory is His power at work. In working His power or miracle He was showing His glory. It’s like a guy who has a reputation for being the smartest cookie in the jar. The sound system has broken and no one knows how to fix it. Many have tried, but no one can fix it. Along comes the guy with the reputation and, within moments, he fixes the sound system. And in fixing the sound system he’s shown, once again, that he really is a smart cookie. His repair enhances his reputation.In like manner, Jesus’ glory is His reputation for His power. When He worked this miracle He was showing us His glory, His reputation.

A miracle is designed to bring glory to God. That's a big part of the reason why God does miracles. We add to His glory by praising Him for His power & works. Heaven is all about praising & glorifying God for His works. For who He is and what He’s done for us. Shame on us when we neglect, fail, or forget to thank God when He works a miracle for us! We're robbing God of glory! [94a]

FNMost of us think of miracles as a lifeline. A last hope. The difference between life and death; failure and success. If you were God, or if you had any say in the matter, what would you have chosen to be Jesus' first miracle? Running out of wine is not a life and death issue. Yeah, it's a big deal when a party's involved. But, in the grand scheme of thing, running out of wine is not going to kill you. It's inconvenient to be sure, but it definitely won't be the end of the world. So what am I saying? For His first miracle Jesus chose to do a miracle of comfort or convenience. It saved the bridegroom a lot of embarrassment and it made a lot of people happy. But, the fact of the matter is, a miracle wasn't absolute necessary. They could have gone out and bought more wine. I guess Jesus wanted to save them the time, trouble, and expense, of doing that. Friends, don't limit or reserve miracles for matters of life and death. God is interested in the small stuff. Like Mary, bring Jesus into the small stuff that you face. Jesus is interested in your comfort and convenience. Trials are an ordained part of the Christian life. But there are times when God would just as soon save you the trouble and work a miracle of convenience for you just to show you that He's interested in the small stuff that you face. [94b]

FNA miracle encourages some people to believe. It makes a believer out of some people (John 20:30-31). But a miracle will not make a believer out of everybody. Some people who see a miracle will still not believe it’s a miracle (Luke 16:31). If you refuse to believe God and the Scriptures you will not believe a miracle. The refusal to believe will not make a believer out of you. Miracles will not make you a believer if you refuse to believe. However, if you're open to the possibility of believing in God, the Bible, and Christianity,then seeing or experiencing a miracle will make a believer out of you. If, like these disciples, you're already a Christian, then miracles will make you even more of a believer. When you're tempted to doubt, my dear friend, remember past miracles and believe! [94c]

FNCapernaum, or Village of Nahum, was located on the northwestern shores of the Sea of Galilee, about twenty miles north of Nazareth and eighty-five miles north of Jerusalem. The city was sufficiently large enough to warrant the presence of a Roman garrison of soldiers with a centurion. A high-ranking Government official also lived here (John 4:46). Capernaum was one of three main tax offices in Palestine and from here, Matthew the tax collector was called (Matthew 9:9). James and John, two of the Lord's earliest disciples, lived here as well. During His Galilean ministry, Jesus lived in Capernaum and the city witnessed many of Jesus' miracles. The city is never once mentioned outside the Gospel accounts. [95]

FNAfter Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph had several more children. Mark 6:3 gives us the names of Jesus' brothers: (1) James, who is to be distinguished from James, the son of Zebedee and brother of John the Gospel writer. Our Lord's brother eventually came to be recognized as the head of the Jerusalem Church following Pentecost and it was he who wrote the Epistle of James. (2) Joses, whom Matthew calls Joseph (Matthew 13:55) and is to be distinguished from the Joses of Mark 15:40. (3) Jude, writer of the Epistle by that name. And (4) Simon, of whom, like Joses, we know nothing more. Jesus also had sisters. How many there were, or their names, are not given in Scripture. In all likelihood, Jesus' sisters were married by this time and living with their husbands, hence, their absence from the company that traveled to Capernaum. [96]

FNThere are two cleansings of the Temple in the Gospel accounts: this one recorded by John at the beginning of Jesus' ministry, and the second one recorded by the Synoptics just days prior to His crucifixion (Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-19, Luke 19:45-46). The fact that John alone records this incident at the start of Jesus' ministry, coupled with its striking similarity with that recorded by the Synoptics, has led some to conclude that Jesus cleansed the Temple only once—at the close of His ministry; and John was simply recalling the event without any chronological concern. While chronology was not the overwhelming concern of any of the Gospel writers, we see in the first two chapters of John a definite chronological sequence of events, e.g. the Jerusalem deputation, the return of Jesus from the wilderness temptation, the first disciples, the first miracle, and the first Passover. Furthermore, John alone, out of all the Gospel writers, was with Jesus in Jerusalem during this event. There is therefore no need to doubt the historicity of a Temple cleansing at the beginning of Jesus' public ministry. [97]

FNPassover fell on the 14th day of Nisan, which corresponds to the latter days of March. Because attendance at the Feast was mandatory for all adult males and boys aged twelve and up, many families would make their way to Jerusalem days in advance, some for the purpose of Levitical purification from defilement. The implication of the text is that Jesus arrived in Jerusalem before Passover actually came: the Passover was at hand. We know the date of Passover. We know that Jesus spent over a month in the wilderness after His baptism, being tempted of the Devil. On this basis, we would be fairly accurate to date Jesus' first public appearance at the River Jordan sometime in late January or early February, AD 27. [98]

FNIn the commotion of the moment, the people and religious leaders present at the time did not hear or grasp what Jesus said when He referred to God as His Father. When Jesus referred to God in this same manner the second time around, they heard and understood Him—and tried to kill Him (John 5:17ff)! [99]

FNThe word merchandise comes from the Greek emporion, from which we get our English word emporium. The word literally means a marketplace. If you've ever been to a flea market, or if you've been in a foreign country where markets and bazaars are quite plentiful; you'll have a fair idea of what the word merchandise is all about. With approval from the High Priest and other religious leaders, the Temple had become a marketplace and its Treasury swelled from a portion of the profits gained from every sale or financial transaction. Now since the worship of God involved sacrificial animals and Temple tributes or taxes, the vendors and coin exchangers were involved in a perfectly legitimate business. There was nothing illegal or wrong about it; they were making available to the people the things they would need to fulfil their religious duty. It wasn't so much what they were doing that was wrong, but rather, where they were doing it. The Temple was no place to set up market! [100]

Now there is no doubt in my mind that this action of Jesus sets a precedent for us to follow in our day. We shouldn't be doing what these vendors and coin exchangers were doing, namely, conducting business or marketplace transactions in the House of God. Now to make total application of this Temple cleansing to our day is simply not justifiable because the worship of God today does not involve sacrificial animals or Temple shekels. In this sense, there are no vendors and exchangers today for the simple reason that we don't need anything before we can come into the House of God and worship the Lord.

Now this brings me to the related question of selling music and teaching CDs or DVDs, as well as religious books and other forms of religious literature, instruction, or entertainment. While it is not my purpose to encumber the saints of God with all kinds of rules, let me put forth, for your prayerful consideration, an application of this Biblical precedent in John 2. THE HOUSE OF GOD IS INTENDED AS A PLACE OF WORSHIP AND, AS SUCH, IT SHOULD BE KEPT AS A PLACE OF WORSHIP—NOT AS A MARKETPLACE OF BOOKS AND TAPES (that is, a bookstore). If you want to sell oxen and books, sell them where these things are sold—in the marketplace or bookstore—not in church. While you may have a legitimate business or "ministry," conduct that business elsewhere, where such businesses are usually transacted. DON'T TURN THE CHURCH INTO A BUSINESS ESTABLISHMENT!

Now what we say with respect to business we also say with respect to other activities that the church is more and more being used for. The House of God ought not to be used as a sports or recreation center, as a theater, or as a concert house. The overriding principle or precedent is simply this. THE HOUSE OF GOD IS A PLACE OF WORSHIP. USE IT FOR WORSHIP—NOT FOR COMMERCE OR SPORT.

Going back to the Temple scene, Jesus did not condemn the sale of sacrificial animals. He condemned where they were sold, but He didn't condemn the fact that they were being sold. When we get to our commentary on Matthew 10:8, we will see that the Gospel itself is not to be sold. [100]

FNPsalm 69:9. This Psalm is one of the six most-cited Psalms in the New Testament, the others being Psalm 2, 22, 89, 110, and 118. Portions of Psalm 69 are either cited or alluded to in Matthew 27:34,48, Mark 15:36, Luke 23:36, John 15:25, Romans 11:9,10, 15:3, Hebrews 11:26, Revelation 3:5, 13:8, 16:1, 17:8, 20:12,15, and 21:27. [101]

The word zeal means exactly what we know it mean, hence, differentiation must be made between zeal and anger. There is nothing in the text that suggests Jesus hit or whipped the Temple vendors. He drove them out by driving out their animals with the whip that He had made. [101]

FNWhy were sheep and oxen being sold in the Temple Court? The Jews were commanded to offer these animals in sacrifice to the Lord. Now the animals had to be without blemish or defect. When the worshipper brought his animal for sacrifice, the animal wasn't automatically sent to the altar. It was first inspected by an examiner called a mumcheh and a fee was charged for every inspection. Greedy and unscrupulous examiners could refuse to approve an otherwise perfectly acceptable animal. In that case, the worshipper would have to buy an approved, sacrificial animal from the Temple vendors. And these vendors, in turn, gave the mumcheh a portion of the profits derived from the sale. Hence, the greed and unscrupulousness of the mumchehs. To avoid the trouble and inconvenience of bringing their animals from home, only to be rejected upon inspection, many worshippers simply bought their sacrificial animals from the Temple vendors. [102]

FNThis is the first of several more incidents where the religious leaders confronted Jesus and demanded a sign from Him: Matthew 12:38, 16:1, Luke 11:14-16, John 6:30. [103]

FNThere are 6 temples in Scripture: (1) Solomon’s; (2) Ezekiel’s; (3) Zerubbabel’s (4) Herod’s; (5) End-times rebuilt Temple; and (6) Heavenly Temple. Solomon built the first Temple. It was subsequently destroyed by the Babylonians, but not completely. When the Jews came back from captivity in Babylon they rebuilt Solomon’s Temple. Zerubbabel was in charge of this rebuilding and that’s why it’s called Zerubbabel’s Temple. The Syrians, and later the Romans, destroyed Zerubbabel's Temple but, once again, it wasn't destroyed completely. The Hasmoneans later rebuilt it during inter-testamental times. When Herod the Great came along, he wanted to make the Temple much, much bigger and grander. So he commissioned the priests to do the renovation. All in all, portions of Solomon's original Temple survived the conquests of foreign nations during the entire Biblical period. [103a]

FNThis statement of Jesus was later used against Him during His trial, though it was misquoted or perverted, Matthew 26:60-61. Brethren, YOUR CRITICS WILL TWIST WHAT YOU SAY AND THEY'LL USE "YOUR WORDS" AGAINST YOU TO CONDEMN OR DISCREDIT YOU. [104]

FNAccording to Josephus, the rebuilding and enlarging of the Temple began in the eighteenth year of Herod the Great's reign, which would have been 20-19 B.C. By the time this Temple cleansing took place in A.D. 27, it was literally forty-six years that the Temple was being reconstructed. Incidentally, the Temple was not finally completed until the reign of Herod Agrippa II in A.D. 64. Sadly, six years later, after 83 years of reconstruction, the Temple was demolished by Titus and his Roman army. [105]

FNThe subsequent conduct of the disciples after this Temple disturbance is an enlightening one and one well worth commending, as well as emulating. Two things in particular. [106]

(1) First, from our human standpoint, this first encounter of Jesus with the religious authorities was not a good or a favorable one. The tone which Jesus set was not one of moderation or conciliation, but rather, one of opposition or conflict. That's not a good way to start things off! Now the ruckus that Jesus caused in the Temple would have been enough to frighten His disciples away. They had followed Jesus for a few weeks and when they saw that Jesus and the religious authorities weren't going to be getting along very good, they could have chosen to abandon Him—after all, why get in trouble with the leaders of your people and your religion? Jesus was headed in the path of opposition, rejection, and persecution by the religious establishment. But the disciples followed Him anyway, and for this they are to be commended. Brethren, DOES THE PROSPECT OF OPPOSITION, REJECTION, AND PERSECUTION BY THE RELIGIOUS ESTABLISHMENT TODAY FRIGHTEN YOU AWAY FROM FOLLOWING JESUS?

And (2) when Jesus spoke about the religious leaders destroying the Temple and Himself raising it back up in three days, this statement must have been incredible and unbelievable to the disciples. The Temple was the heart of the nation and its people. The religious leaders would never destroy it! In fact, the mere thought of destroying such a sacred structure was irreverent, abhorrent and offensive to any pious Jew. Even if it was destroyed, how on Earth could one Man repair or restore it in three days' time? Impossible! "Jesus must have lost His mind! Is this Man whom we're following really sane? Do we really want to follow someone who doesn't have it altogether?" Like the religious leaders, the disciples themselves didn't understand what Jesus said. But they continued following Him anyway! Brethren, ARE YOU WILLING TO FOLLOW JESUS EVEN THOUGH YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING HE SAID? WILL YOU STICK WITH WHAT HE SAID EVEN WHEN YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT HE SAID OR MEANT?

The religious leaders didn't like, agree with, or believe, what Jesus said about the Temple. Jesus taught on healing, faith, divorce and remarriage, holiness, and a lot of other things that you, like the religious leaders, may not necessarily like or agree with. Will you follow the Lord anyway and let the Lord shed more light on the matter as time goes by?

The disciples didn't always understand everything Jesus said—at least, not right away. They didn't understand Jesus' teaching about what really defiles a person (Matthew 15:10-20), nor did they understand what Jesus meant about the leaven of the Pharisees (Matthew 16:6-12) or what He said about His coming rejection in Jerusalem (Luke 9:43-45, 18:31-34). For the disciples, it was three years before they finally understood what Jesus said about the Temple. Their lack of understanding during that three-year period of time did not deter them from following Jesus. They kept on following Him.


FNPassover was a one-day Feast. It was immediately followed by the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which was a seven-day Feast. Sometimes, both Feasts were simply referred to as Passover (Ezekiel 45:21, Luke 22:1, Acts 12:3,4 Passover in verse 4 is mistranslated Easter in KJV). Jesus was in Jerusalem for this week-long Festival and it was during this time that He did many miracles. [107]

FNWhat these miracles were, we are not told. We can, however, be relatively sure that these were miracles of healing and deliverance. And, as these kinds of miracles go, people were being helped. They were benefiting from Jesus’ ministry. In this way, then, Jesus' helping the people is to be contrasted with the excessive fees and extortion the people suffered at the hands of their religious leaders. Already, in His first public encounter with the priestly cultus in Jerusalem, the contrast between Jesus and the religious leaders could be seen. [108]

FNThe word commit in this verse is the same Greek word that's translated believed in verse 23. The long and short of it is this: many people believed in Jesus, but Jesus didn't believe in them. Why is that? I suspect it's because He knew they would eventually turn against Him. It's easy to believe in Jesus when you see miracles and get answers to prayer. But when the miracles cease and you don't get the answers you want; when Jesus' words are hard to understand or accept; when everyone around you hates Him and it's not cool or safe to be a Christian, will you still believe? Let me put it this way. You believe in Jesus now, but does Jesus believe in you? My friend, believe in Him through thick and thin, to your final breath, and make Jesus a believer! [108a]

FNThe name Nicodemus is a Greek name, meaning victor over the people. The fact that he has a Greek name does not in itself mean Nicodemus was a Greek. Beginning with the Maccabean Period, many of the Jews gave their children Hebrew, Latin, and Greek names. [109]

FNA ruler of the Jews signifies a member of the Sanhedrin. Now the Sanhedrin was the Jewish council of supreme authority, the rough equivalent of our modern-day Supreme Court. Unlike our Supreme Court, however, the Sanhedrin pretty much ruled over the entire affairs of the Jewish nation—religious, civil, and political. This rule occurred primarily during the tenure of Roman Procurators. As long as order was kept and taxes were being paid, Rome allowed its subject nations a broad measure of self-rule. During the reign of the Herodians, the Sanhedrin was stripped of most of its political-civil power. [110]

The Sanhedrin was composed of seventy-one members, patterned after the tribunal of seventy instituted by Moses (Numbers 11:16ff). The seventy-first member was the High Priest, who was President of the Council. Aside from the High Priest, the Council was composed of three groups of people: (1) the chief priests, consisting of former High Priests, as well as members of the most-important priestly families; (2) the elders, who were recognized leaders of the people; and (3) the scribes or lawyers, who were experts in the Law. The chief priests and elders belonged to the Sadducean Party, hence, the Sanhedrin was predominantly Sadducean and they exerted the greatest power and influence in the nation. The scribes belonged to the minority party of the Pharisees. [110]

FNBecause of who Nicodemus was, and because of the bad reputation Jesus had with the religious leaders who were Nicodemus' colleagues, a meeting or a talk with Jesus was a risky or chancy thing to do. Nicodemus had a lot to lose or suffer if his peers found out what he was doing. Now the thing I want you to see from Nicodemus is, even though he was fearful or apprehensive of being caught with Jesus in public, he did not let his fear stop him from doing what he really wanted to do in his heart: he wanted to talk with Jesus. And he found a way to do it! He did it at night and he did it in the privacy of an upper room or guest room that Jesus rented. [111]

We can be critical of Nicodemus for being so fearful and covert, but do you know what? Jesus wasn’t! Jesus didn't rebuke him for coming at night, He didn't rebuke him for being bound with the fear of man, He didn't rebuke him for being a Pharisee, and He didn't rebuke him for being a part of the Ruling Council. IT'S EASY TO BE CRITICAL WHEN WE SEE SOMETHING WRONG, FOR EXAMPLE, THE FEAR OF MAN. DARE WE LOOK FOR SOMETHING GOOD OR SOMETHING RIGHT? Like what? Consider three things. (1) Consider the fact that Nicodemus wanted to talk with Jesus. He had a question to ask of Jesus. He didn't come to argue, debate, or start a fight. Brethren, Jesus doesn't beat down on a person who comes to Him sincerely out of a good heart. (2) Consider the fact that Nicodemus overcame his fear and inhibition sufficiently to a point where he came and talked with Jesus. Isn't that to be commended? The question is, If you were Nicodemus, would you have come and talked with Jesus? The fear of man and the fear of persecution keep a lot of people from coming to Jesus. But in spite of having that fear, Nicodemus came. And (3), consider the fact that Nicodemus had to find out where Jesus was staying. How do you do that when the city is crowded with people? Do you follow Jesus around by day to see where He's staying? Do you go from inn to inn and talk to the innkeepers about who was staying in their guest rooms? Do you talk to Jesus' disciples and ask for an appointment to see the Master? However Nicodemus did it, he found out what he needed to know: he knew where Jesus was staying. Nicodemus, I am saying, made an effort to meet with Jesus and the effort is worth commending. [111]

FNThe use of the plural we gives indication that Nicodemus wasn't the only one in the Sanhedrin who thought favorably of Jesus. There were others who shared his feelings or sentiments (x-ref John 12:42). What is the lesson? If you remain uncompromising in what's true and right, and if you stand up to the established system; you'll earn the system's rejection and reproach, but there will be a handful—a silent minority—who will admire and respect you for your courage and conviction. Maintain your faithful testimony! People are watching you. And like Nicodemus and some of his colleagues, some of the people will be won to the truth and to the right. [112]

FNEven though Jesus wasn't a part of the commonly-accepted body of Masters and Teachers—He wasn't a part of the religious leadership in Jerusalem or of the Sanhedrin—Nicodemus recognized Jesus as being a Teacher from God. Brethren, BEING A PART OF THE ESTABLISHED SYSTEM IS NOT A REQUIREMENT FOR BEING CERTIFIED AS A MINISTER FROM GOD OR OF GOD. JUST BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT A PART OF THE SYSTEM DOES NOT MEAN YOU DON'T HAVE A CALLING OR A MINISTRY FROM GOD. Paul was not a part of the original band of apostles, yet he was received by the apostles because his message and works confirmed his calling. Like Paul and Jesus in the eyes of modern-day Nicodemuses, your message and miracles will confirm your calling. [113]

FNAs one learned in the Law, Nicodemus must have been familiar with Deuteronomy 13:1ff, namely, the fact that false prophets can do miracles too. The magicians of Pharaoh, to a certain point or degree, duplicated the miracles of Moses (Exodus 7 & 8). But as the magicians could not do everything that Moses did in the name of Yahweh, so there are some miracles that Satan's false prophets, ministers, and messiahs, cannot do. In the words of Nicodemus, no man can do these miracles, except God be with him. One miracle that Satan cannot do or duplicate is deliverance (Matthew 12:22-26). There is then good reason to believe that among the many miracles Jesus performed in Jerusalem during Passover were miracles of deliverance. It was this kind of miracle that proved to Nicodemus and others of his peers that Jesus was indeed a Man of God. [114]

Now I have a burden and an admonition to share with you. The burden is that the miraculous would be restored in our day. Jesus promised that signs would follow His believers (Mark 16:17-18); He promised that we ourselves would do signs (Matthew 10:7-8, John 14:12). Brethren, we need the signs we lack! And the admonition is, there are all sorts of people out there doing all kinds of miracles. Don't just look at what they're doing. Look at what they’re not doing, e.g. deliverance. Listen to their message (Deuteronomy 18:20). False prophets and teachers cannot do some things and they cannot say some things (1 John 4:1-3). [114]

FNA Rabbi himself, who knew what the Law and the Rabbis taught about the Kingdom, came for instruction from a young, "uneducated" Teacher! This, my friends, is the humility of Nicodemus! Friends, DON'T EVER GET TO A POINT IN YOUR SPIRITUAL GROWTH OR RELIGIOUS ACCOMPLISHMENTS THAT YOU FORGET ALL ABOUT HUMILITY! [116]

FNHere, for a second time, we see Jesus talking on a different wavelength. He’s not talking literally, but spiritually or figuratively. Notice that for the religious leaders in the Temple, Jesus did not explain what He meant when He talked figuratively to them. But here, for a prospective child of God, Jesus explains what He means. If you’re a child of God, you’re going to understand a lot of things that the heathens don’t understand because God is going to explain things to you that He doesn’t explain to the heathen. Don’t expect heathens to understand the Bible or Christian truths because understanding begins with, it requires, the new birth (1 Cor. 2:14). [117a]

FNThe word 'again' is translated from the Greek anothen, which literally means 'from above, or from the top'. The same Greek word is used in other places of John's Gospel account and has this same meaning: 3:31, 19:11, and 19:23 (see also Matthew 27:51, James 1:17, 3:15,17). In other words, the reference is not so much to being born again, or a second time, as it is to being born from above. To enter the kingdom of God, you need to have a new kind of birth—a supernatural, Heavenly, Divine birth (1 John 2:29, 3:9, 4:7). In theology, this is the doctrine of regeneration. [117]

FNJust as a mother on this earth gives birth to a baby on this earth; so the new birth requires God the Spirit from above to give birth to you. Birth begins with, it’s preceded by, conception. You were conceived spiritually when God chose and foreordained you to eternal life. Then, when you were born here on earth and you became a believer, you came to full-term (your “9 months in the womb” was up and that’s when the Spirit birthed you. That’s when you were born again or born from above. Since God is your Father, He conceived you; that’s why, when you’re saved and born again, you’re called a child of God. [118a]

FNNicodemus came to Jesus because he really wanted to meet Jesus personally and know some things. He definitely got more than he bargained or hoped for because Jesus told him some really heavy and fantastic things. Jesus tells him that He is the Son of man who has Heavenly origin. He lived in Heaven and came down to Earth from Heaven. His Heavenly origin and unique relationship with God the Father makes this Son of man the Son of God too (verse 18). Friends, if you have an open mind and come to Jesus to learn the truth, don't be surprised if Jesus blows your mind. The truth has that effect sometimes! [118b]

FNTo Nicodemus and the religious leaders in the Temple, two things could be said of Jesus' teaching. (1) His teaching was unorthodox! What Jew would ever think of tearing down the Temple? Jesus' message on kingdom entrance did not line up with Pharisaic teaching. Unorthodox! And (2) Jesus teaching was impossible or illogical! How could Jesus raise the Temple back up in three days? How can an old man go into the womb and be born again? Impossible! It doesn't make any sense! So I hear you're downcast because a lot of people reject your beliefs as being unorthodox, impossible, and illogical. You think maybe you're wrong since the system doesn't believe what you believe. Look at Jesus’ teaching, my friends, and you will see that that teaching has always been unorthodox, impossible, and illogical in the eyes of an unbelieving, religious system. Now doesn't that make you feel just a little bit better? [118]

FNTo beget means to father or sire. It can also mean to cause to exist, come into being, or produce. When Jesus refers to Himself as being the only begotten Son it makes it sound as if the Father brought Him into existence: that Jesus had a beginning, God brought Him into being, and He was therefore a created being. If the only begotten Son were the exact words that John used when penned his Gospel account this is the exact understanding that we would have of Jesus. But this is not the case. The word that John used here is the Greek monogenes which means unique, one of a kind. The only begotten Son doesn't mean that Jesus was a created being. It means that Jesus is unique. He's the only one of His kind. There is no one else like Him. [118c]

FNJesus’ ministry to Nicodemus is instructive to us. When we are witnessing to an unsaved person, or else teaching a new convert, there are many things we can say concerning any one doctrine of faith. The principal admonition to observe is, DON'T OVERWHELM THEM WITH EVERYTHING YOU KNOW! GIVE THEM A LITTLE AT A TIME, AND MOST ESPECIALLY, WHAT'S NEEDFUL FOR THE PRESENT HOUR. THE REST OF WHAT THEY NEED TO KNOW WILL EVENTUALLY COME IN ITS PROPER TIME. [119]

FNNicodemus eventually got saved, as is hinted in John 19:39. There is, however, no indication that he got saved in this first encounter with Jesus by night. It seems strange to me that the Gospel writer would not record such a glorious testimony if Nicodemus walked away that night as a born-again believer. The point is, DON’T BE DISCOURAGED IF THERE IS NO IMMEDIATE, VISIBLE FRUIT WHEN YOU WITNESS. Just because the person/s you talked to did not make a decision to get saved or did not receive the truths you were conveying, does not mean you failed. No, my friends, you’ve succeeded in planting a seed. Now pray for the person/s and believe the Lord to bring that seed to fruition. [120]

FNAenon in Aramaic means fountains or springs. According to Eusebius and Jerome, Salim was located about six miles south of Scythopolis, in the extreme north-eastern part of Samaria and near the junction of Samaria, Perea, and Decapolis. It is in this area that seven springs are found. [121[

FNFor us, it might be a temptation to stay a while in Jerusalem and amass a following that would revolutionize the very heart of Judaism and its religious leadership. Brethren, move with the Spirit and go where God sends and bids you go. The people will continue to follow; they'll continue to come. [122]

FNAs we'll soon see, John’s disciples were jealous and upset that Jesus was gaining more and more disciples, He was attracting more and more people, and He was baptizing them. All this meant that John was losing his audience and notoriety. Jealousy in the ministry and among Christians is a real problem and it needs to be gotten rid of. Read more along these lines in the FN below. [122a]

FNThe term used in the Greek text means 'an argument, dispute, or debate'. [123]

FNThe use of the singular Jew in the Greek text indicates that a dispute had arisen between some of John’s disciples and a certain, or a particular, Jew. Some scholars are of the opinion that this certain Jew was a follower of Christ, though not one of the Lord's six disciples. The reason for this opinion is because the contention centered around purifying, which was what water baptism symbolized at the time. Quite possibly, these two groups of disciples got into an argument about the efficacy of John's, or Jesus', baptism. Whose baptism is better? Which baptism does a better job of purifying? Notice in verse 26 that when the disciples of John went to their master, they did not discuss the question of purifying. Instead, they talked about what really bothered them—which, in all likelihood, precipitated the argument with the Jew in the first place. What was the problem? John’s disciples did not like the idea of Jesus attracting and baptizing more people than their master. [124]

FNLike these disciples of the Baptist, when you have your eyes on the man you're following—call him master or pastor—when you're concerned about popularity and a following; the labors and successes of others in the ministry will become a source of envy and complaint to you. You won't like it! And the problem stems from a basic failure to understand that there are other laborers in the vineyard of the kingdom—valid, God-called, God-sent, God-blest, God-anointed, laborers. There are many laborers in the vineyard—some true, some false. I'm talking about true and valid ministers of God. WHEN YOU'RE ALL WRAPPED UP IN THE ONE MASTER OR PASTOR THAT YOU'RE FOLLOWING YOU'LL FAIL TO SEE THESE OTHER MINISTERS AS BEING WHAT THEY REALLY ARE: CO-LABORERS WITH YOUR PASTOR IN MINISTRY, EQUALLY CALLED, EQUALLY SENT, EQUALLY BLEST, AND EQUALLY ANOINTED. YOU'LL SEE THEM NOT AS CO-LABORERS, BUT RATHER, AS RIVALS AND COMPETITORS IN MINISTRY. As in John's day, numbers and popularity are a source of disputes (KJV question, v. 25) to those who view these things solely in relation to their pastor or church, and not in relation to the Christ who is followed. Continue reading along these lines in the FN below. [125]

FNAlthough John the Baptist told his disciples many times that he was not the Messiah (v. 28), these disciples did not fully understand, believe, and accept, what their master said concerning himself. They loved and respected him too much that they didn’t believe he wasn't really the Messiah. They weren't ready to acknowledge Jesus as Messiah—otherwise they wouldn't have had the problem they had, namely, that more and more people were flocking to Jesus. Unlike his disciples, John didn't have this problem with Jesus' popularity because he knew full well who he was and who he wasn’t. John’s joy and success were not based on the numbers of people who followed him. To the contrary, they were based on the fact that he did what God sent him to do. Brethren, keep your eyes foremost on Jesus and get your eyes off the vessel, get them off of others, and off of numbers. Doing otherwise is only asking for disputes! [126]

As a sidenote, just as John addressed the jealousy of his disciples and tried to give them a proper perspective of things, it is every minister’s responsibility to deal with jealousy in the flock. A minister who doesn’t address the problem and try to nip it is only inviting division and conflict. Jealousy creates a war amongst Christians where there ought to none. It’s a sign that people don’t have the right perspective of things. People will have their problems and issues. But when the minister neglects or fails to address, remedy, and resolve these issues he will answer to God. The welfare of the congregation is his responsibility and God will hold him accountable and responsible for the people's spiritual condition and what ultimately happens to them (see Ezek. 33:1-20, x-ref. James 3:1). [126]

FNWhen you believe Christ and His message you're testifying that what God said about Him is true: Jesus is God’s Beloved Son (Luke 3:22). Conversely, WHEN YOU REFUSE TO BELIEVE CHRIST AND HIS MESSAGE, YOU’RE IN EFFECT CALLING GOD A LIAR (1 John 5:10). [127]

FNWhen kept in its proper place and perspective—which, incidentally, I might add, requires much discipline and clarity of vision; there's nothing wrong with discipleship in the sense of following a man, in this instance, following John the Baptist. I'm talking about discipleship, not idolizing or worshipping a man. Christ did not rebuke the Baptist for having disciples, nor did He rebuke the Baptist's disciples for following a man. As the writings of the ancient Church Fathers show, the disciples of Jesus themselves had disciples who followed them. THE TASK OF THE MAN OR MASTER BEING FOLLOWED IS TO POINT HIS FOLLOWERS TO CHRIST, just as John pointed his disciples to Christ. The same Paul who said Be ye followers of me, also said, Be ye followers of God (1 Corinthians 4:16 & Ephesians 5:1, compare with 1 Corinthians 11:1). [128]

It’s a real temptation and tendency for ministers to want to keep their congregation or followers focused on themselves so that they’ll stay loyal and keep on following them. But John understood that the goal was not to have men follow him, but rather, Christ. Before Christ came along, it was alright for men to follow him (John the Baptizer). But now that Christ is here, you need to start thinking about getting your eyes on Him and following Him because He is the way to have everlasting life. Brethren, do not follow a minister who doesn’t point you to Christ! If all the minister does is call your attention to himself and what he’s doing, or what he wants to do, but he doesn’t lead you or point you to Jesus; don’t follow him! You follow what you set your eyes on. Obviously, you can't follow a certain person if you're not looking at that person. In the same way spiritually, if your eyes are on a man and not on Jesus, then let me be the one to tell you, you're not following Jesus!

While the man or master may faithfully point others to Christ, a problem arises when some of his followers insist on keeping their eyes on him, as opposed to on Christ. In this account under consideration, John's disciples clearly were not ready to embrace Jesus as the Messiah despite John's claims that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. The point I'm driving at is this. Brethren, NO MATTER WHO YOU'RE FOLLOWING, YOU STILL NEED TO BELIEVE ON JESUS TO ENTER THE KINGDOM. You may be following someone who's perfectly valid and legitimate as a minister of God. As a disciple of John the Baptist, you're following a perfectly good man and a prophet of God. But JUST BECAUSE YOU'RE FOLLOWING SOMEONE GOOD OR SOMEONE RIGHT DOESN'T MEAN YOU'RE AUTOMATICALLY ENTITLED TO A MANSION IN GLORY. JUST BECAUSE THE MAN YOU'RE FOLLOWING IS GOING TO HEAVEN DOESN'T MEAN YOU'RE FOLLOWING HIM THERE. LIKE JOHN TO HIS DISCIPLES, YOU STILL NEED TO BELIEVE ON JESUS IN ORDER TO BE SAVED. FOLLOWING A MAN ISN'T A SUBSTITUTE FOR BELIEVING ON CHRIST. FOLLOWING A MAN ISN'T WHAT SAVES YOU: IT'S COMING FACE TO FACE WITH JESUS AND BELIEVING HIM. [128]

FNThere are two Samarias in Scripture: one is the city and the other is the province. The province occupied the territory that was allotted to Ephraim and Manasseh after Joshua’s conquest of the Promised Land. It was situated between Judea and Galilee and was roughly 48 miles (N to S) by 40 miles (E to W). The city itself was founded around 875 B.C. by King Omri of Israel, who bought it from Shemer and subsequently named it after him (1 Kings 16:24). Omri died before the city was completely built. Ahab his son finished the work and Samaria became the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. During Herod the Great's reign, he made the city one of the most magnificent in Palestine and renamed it Sebaste in honor of Emperor Augustus (Greek, Sebastos) Caesar. One of his wives was a Samaritan named Malthace, by whom he had two sons—Antipas and Archelaus. After Herod's death, Archelaus ruled over the province. When Archelaus was later deposed, Samaria was ruled by a Roman Procurator, governing out of Caesarea. He was the same Procurator who ruled in Judea and Idumea. [129]

The city of Samaria was the capital of the province. The Samaritans, however, considered Shechem, modern-day Nablus, its real capital and holy city, for it was in Shechem that many events of ancient history took place. In fact, with the exception of Jerusalem, no other city was the site of so many historical events. For a listing of these events, see Ryle's Expository Thoughts On The Gospels, Vol. 3, pp. 195-196. From Samaria came Simon Magus (Acts 8:9-24) and Christianity's first apologist, Justin Martyr. [129]

FNJesus’ growing popularity attracted the attention of the religious leaders in Jerusalem. Now you have to understand that the religious leaders in Jerusalem were divided into two factions. I'll talk about the Pharisees here and I'll save the High Priest and Sadducees for later. You'll understand the Pharisees' opposition to Jesus a lot better when you understand what they were all about. The Pharisees, scribes, and rabbis were very devout to the Jewish religion. The entire nation had gone into captivity in Babylon because of their sins. Like America, they cast God out of their personal and national lives and they backslid and rebelled against Him. So God caused the Babylonians to come against them, defeat them, and enslave them in Babylon. Well, these religious leaders vowed, from that moment on, that they were never again going to turn their backs on God. Never again would they end up in slavery. Never again would their sacred city and Temple be destroyed or occupied by heathens. Their motto was, Never Again!

A huge part of their Never Again! devotion was to make sure that no false prophet, teacher, or messiah come into their midst and lead God’s people astray from God, the Law, and the truth. Now, in Israel’s history, there were always men arising who claimed to be true prophets, teachers, and messiahs. But, in many instances, they were actually false. And these religious leaders made it their life’s mission to protect God’s people from these false messiahs. They did everything in their power to keep God’s people faithful to the law of Moses and God. Never again would they allow the nation to turn its back on God and the law. [129]

FNJesus’ departure from Judea is not to be interpreted as an admission of the fear of man or the fear of persecution. We know that Jesus was in no way fearful of either. Jesus' time to die had not come, He had work to do in other provinces, and He simply could not let the Pharisees or their persecutions stop Him from doing this work. What I'm saying is, as commendable as persecution is—that is, in facing and enduring it; there are times when God would have you leave and live, instead of stay and suffer (Matthew 10:14, 24:16-20), and it's really up to you to discern what God's will is in the present situation. As bystanders looking at those who are fleeing or avoiding persecution, caution must be observed not to automatically condemn these as cowards unless one has intimate knowledge of the heart and of God’s will for these in flight. Flight, in and of itself, is not proof of cowardice. In God's will, it's proof of obedience. In such instances, flight is not a disgrace of Christian testimony, but rather, it’s the opportunity to continue one's witness and labors elsewhere. [130]

FNJohn tells us that Jesus must needs go through Samaria. While other routes were available to Him, Jesus was not bound by the scruples of pious Jews and most Judean Jews who avoided the direct route through Samaria. Needs not only speaks of the shortest, most direct route: it undoubtedly also speaks of our Savior's knowledge of what awaited Him in Samaria. He needed to go through Samaria because there were souls that were going to be saved on that particular trip en route to Galilee. THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD'S WILL, MY FRIENDS, GIVES RISE—OR OUGHT TO GIVE RISE—TO THE NECESSITY OF OBEDIENCE. [131]

FNSychar, or modern-day Askar, is nowhere else mentioned in Scripture. The well that tradition says is Jacob's well (John 4:12), is located about a half-mile south of town. Incidentally, the Old Testament says nothing about Jacob digging a well. However, there is no reason to believe he didn't. The Amorites owned the surrounding lands, therefore, it's understandable that Jacob would want to have his own well to water his huge flocks. The well was 9 feet in diameter and was dug about 100 feet deep. [132]

FNWhen Jacob returned from Padan-aram, he bought a parcel of land from the children of Hamor, specifically, from Shechem who was Hamor’s son (Genesis 33:19). Appareantly, just prior to his death, Jacob gave the land to Joseph. In obedience to Joseph's request, his bones were carried out of Egypt and buried in Shechem (Joshua 24:32). This self-same Shechem was located about two miles from Jacob’s well. [133]

FNBy Roman time, the sixth hour would be either 6 A.M. or 6 P.M. By Jewish time, it would be high noon. What time of day, exactly, was John referring to? (a) It was the women, not the men, who got water for the family's needs (1 Samuel 9:11). The well, then, became a place where women gathered together to talk or fellowship (Judges 5:11). Now according to Genesis 24:11, evening was the time that women went out to draw water. In this incident, however, there were no women around drawing water. (b) Knowing what we know about the woman’s adulterous relationship/s and previous marriages (John 4:17-18), it is likely that she came to the well at a time when other women would not do so in order to avoid the embarrassment and humiliation that was her likely lot as an adulterer. (c) If Jesus left Judea in the cool hours of the morning, He would indeed arrive in Samaria around noon, in the heat of the day and at a time when a weary traveler would be most thirsty. (d) There is little or no twilight in Palestine. At 6 P.M. there is just not enough time for all the events described in Chapter 4 to take place. (e) If 6 P.M. was in view here, then by the time the disciples returned with food, there would not have been enough daylight for Jesus to say Look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest (4:35). Based on these considerations, I am inclined to believe that this incident at Jacob’s well occurred around noon. Either way, the matter is nothing to be dogmatic about. [134]

FNJewish attitude and treatment of Samaritans varied during the many centuries of hostility between the two peoples. At one time, eating their bread was tantamount to eating swine’s flesh! With the years, however, the teachings of the rabbis tended to mellow and at the time of Christ, their food was considered clean. Where did the disciples get the money to buy food? Being with Jesus for many months now, without employment, they either supported themselves out of their own savings or wealth, or else the many people whom they ministered to contributed financially for their support. [135]

FNHow did the woman recognize Jesus was a Jew? (1) By the way He talked or pronounced His words. According to Edersheim, there were marked differences in the way Jews and Samaritans pronounced certain vowels and consonants (p. 409). And (2) by the fringes on His tallith. Now the tallith was a shawl. It was worn over the shoulders or on the head during morning prayer (Deuteronomy 22:12). The fringes on a Samaritan tallith were blue, while those on a Jewish tallith were white. [136]

FNIn carrying on a conversation with this woman, Jesus departed from tradition and did three things that a Jew of His stature would not do. (1) He would not have talked in a cordial manner to her. Jews are supposed to hate and despise Samaritans! John 4:27. (2) A Rabbi would never carry on a conversation with a woman. And (3) a Rabbi would not be caught in the company of a sinner (Luke 7:39). [137]

We allow ourselves—our society—to have different mores, rules, or traditions. For example, you can’t hang out with Muslims, gay folks, or Christians who don’t believe what you believe. You really have to take a serious look at your mores and rules because, if they aren’t Scripturally legitimate, your mores—like the traditions of the Jews—will keep you separated and alienated from people. Brethren, you can’t reach out to people, help them, and save them—if you won’t have anything to do with them. The only way for heathens and sinners to get saved is if Christians love them and are willing to get out of their comfort zones, transgress society’s mores, and show them the love of Christ. Does your mores keep you from ministering and reaching out to some people? If so, then, chances are, your mores are wrong. Your mores may be religiously based and you may mean well. But the Jews’ mores were also religiously based and they meant well. But their mores kept them from being evangelistic. TO BE EVANGELISTIC YOU HAVE TO GET RID OF THE MORES, PREJUDICES, HATRED, AND ANIMOSITIES THAT YOU MAY HAVE TOWARDS SOME PEOPLE.


By asking the woman for water, Jesus shows Himself to be a different sort of fellow. He’s not like the rest of the Jews. He’s different. Brethren, people ought to be able to see that there’s something different about us. I’m not talking about the prideful sort of difference, like the Pharisee in Luke 18:10, where we brag on ourself not being like other, inferior, low-life, not-as-religious-as-me type of people. This kind of difference is self-righteousness that’s abominable to God. We ought to be different—not because we’re proud and self-righteousness and want glory or attention. But rather, we ought to be different because of God’s power, Spirit, and love in us. People ought to see kindness in a world of selfishness; thoughtfulness and care in a world of self-centeredness; love in a world of hatred; forgiveness in an unforgiving world; joy in the midst of a world full of depression and sadness. If we’re not different, if people can’t see the difference in us; then we’re hiding our light under a bushel and the light that we do have is not doing this world a bit of good. [137]

FNTwo things are worthy of our note in Jesus' conversation with this woman of Samaria. (1) First, as in His conversation with Nicodemus, the offer of everlasting life centers around the identity of Jesus: If thou knewest who it is that saith unto thee, thou wouldest ask (4:10). TO RECEIVE WHAT JESUS GIVES YOU'VE GOT TO FIRST RECOGNIZE WHO JESUS IS. If you don't know Jesus is Savior, you won't go to Him for salvation. If you don't know Jesus is Healer, you won't go to Him for healing. If you don't know Jesus as Provider, you won't go to Him for provision. Do you see what I mean? You have to know who Jesus is! Jesus gives what He gives because of who He is. [138]

And (2) notice the content of Jesus' conversation. He talked about the water of everlasting life. Now Jesus knew all about this woman before the conversation ever started. He knew this woman had a serious problem called adultery. Hers was a damnable sin! But what I want you to notice is, as damnable and serious as her sin was, even though Jesus knew all about it; He didn’t start out addressing it, nor did He start out accusing and condemning her! Instead, the tone which He set was one of reaching out, forgiveness, and pardon. My friends, would you say Jesus was compromising because He was being so nice and didn't begin by addressing the woman's sin? No, we know Jesus wasn't compromising. He was giving her what she needed first and what she needed most: salvation.

Brethren, you've got to put first things first. It's easy to start out condemning the sin. Follow the example of Jesus and begin with salvation, not sin. Condemn the sin and sinner all you want, but the sinner needs salvation first before he can forsake the sin. Get them saved first, then you can start dealing with the sin in their life. SUCCESS IN EVANGELISM, MY FRIENDS, REQUIRES A HEART OF COMPASSION AND HANDS THAT WILL REACH OUT WITH THE OFFER OF FORGIVENESS AND LIFE. No one's asking you to compromise. We're not asking you to keep silent about sin. There's a place for that and, as we see in the following verses, Jesus eventually gets to the sin and deals with it. What we're talking about is methodology. It’s about putting first things first. We're also talking about compassion. Condemn all you want, but WITHOUT COMPASSION AND THE OFFER OF FORGIVENESS AND LIFE, THE LOST REMAIN LOST AND CONDEMNED. If you want to be evangelistic, you have to have a heart of compassion, not condemnation. You have to want to save them, not judge or damn them. [138]

FNNotice that this woman is a worshipper of God. But she’s in sin. She’s leading what she definitely knows to be a sinful, adulterous life. But she’s going through the motions of worship and religion. She isn’t saved. We know that because Jesus has offered her the waters of salvation. We live in a new time, but times and people have not changed. This woman shows us that people can go to church and go through the motions of religion and worship and still live in sin and continue in sin. This religion is every bit as false as the religion of the Samaritans. Dear friend, you’re not worshipping God in Spirit and in truth when you're living in sin. You may be religious. Very religious, in fact. But being religious doesn't mean you're not a sinner. Being in church doesn't mean you're not in sin. Going to church doesn't mean you're not going to hell. Get saved. Get out of sin. You'll feel a whole lot better about yourself, your conscience will be clean, and you'll begin to worship God in a totally new dimension. [138b]

FNJesus came right out and told her that the Samaritans—even though they professed to worship the God of Israel—didn’t know who or what they were worshipping. They cut out of their Bibles the rest of the Sacred Old Testament Scriptures and, as they consequence, they didn’t have the full revelation of God. Brethren, when you cut verses out of the Bible you’re going to end up on the wrong side of the truth. You don't have the whole truth when you excise certain "undesirable" parts of the truth out of the Bible. And when you don't have the whole truth you'll end up being wrong. [138a]

FNClearly, the disciples did not like or agree with the fact that Jesus would talk to a woman, especially a Samaritan woman. Rabbis just don't do that kind of thing! Notice what the disciples did or how they responded to this offense: they kept their mouths shut! Friends, there's a place for asking questions when things aren't clear to you. But when you've got a disagreement—especially one based on religious tradition and social moré, but not necessarily one which Scripture addresses—sometimes, the best recourse is to keep quiet about it and let the Lord unfold things to you in the process of time. Somehow, I believe the disciples didn't argue with Jesus because they respected Him as being the Messiah and Son of God. Surely, Jesus can't be wrong! On good authority, Peter was with Jesus at this time. And what he failed to grasp by Jesus' example with this Samaritan woman, he grasped several years later when the ascended Lord addressed the issue of Jewish exclusivism once again and made it clear that Gentiles also had a part in the kingdom of God (Acts 10). Friends, IF YOU'VE GOT DISAGREEMENTS WITH THE LORD, DON'T QUIT WALKING WITH THE LORD. COMMIT IT TO THE LORD AND THE LORD WILL ONE DAY MAKE THINGS CLEAR TO YOU. [139]

FNNote the progress of the woman's view of Jesus. First, she sees Him as a Jew (4:9), then she addresses Him respectfully as Sir (4:11, it's the same word in the Greek that's translated many times in other verses of the Scripture as Lord); she listens some more and is convinced that Jesus is a prophet (4:19), and finally, she comes to grips with the realization that this Man with extraordinary knowledge is truly the Messiah (4:29). Do you know how she finally came to see the light of who Jesus really was? She stayed and listened! My friend, TO FIND OUT WHO JESUS IS, YOU'VE GOT TO MEET HIM AND STAY AROUND LONG ENOUGH TO HEAR WHAT HE HAS TO SAY TO YOU. The more you listen, the more you believe and see (x-ref. Romans 10:17). Notice additionally that while the Jews in general accepted Messiah on the basis of signs, this woman of Samaria accepted Messiah on the basis of His supernatural knowledge. It was this same knowledge that led Nathaniel to confess Jesus as the Son of God and King of Israel (1:48-49). [140]

FNThe woman is so excited about Jesus that she does not keep Him all to herself: she rushes back into town and tells the townsfolk about Jesus. Brethren, if you want people to know the Lord you’ve got to speak up. Go to them, befriend them, spend some time with them, and talk to them. You can’t be evangelistic and introduce people to Jesus if you don’t go to them and talk to them about the Lord. [139a]

FNHallelujah! Jesus finishes what He starts out to do! He completes what He begins! He doesn't quit until the work is done! Friends, NO JOB THAT THE LORD DOES IS LEFT UNDONE! Whatever you're believing the Lord for, take courage and hold fast to your confession of faith: He is faithful that promised (Hebrews 10:23), He will complete the work and bring your desire of faith to full manifestation or realization. [141]

FNHarvest time began in April or early May. Four months prior to that would place Jesus' Samaritan ministry sometime in December or January. Spiritually speaking, the time of harvest for the souls in Samaria had come. Indeed, in all probability, while Jesus was saying these very words, the people of Sychar were coming out to meet Him. [142]

FNThere is no indication that the disciples stayed with Jesus for the two days in Samaria. In fact, beginning with this verse and on through 6:3, the disciples are conspicuously absent. In all likelihood, they continued their journey to Galilee that same day. Please note this absence of the disciples at this time because we will have need of it later when we find Jesus by the Sea of Galilee. [143]

FNMany Samaritans believed on Jesus because the woman went to them, spoke up, and told them about Jesus. What would have happened if she never went to them? If she kept her mouth shut? It makes me shudder to think how many people will perish because we kept our mouths shut and didn't tell them about Jesus. Brethren, you can't be evangelistic with your mouth shut (Romans 10:14). [143a]

FNThe Gospel writer John devoted most of his Gospel account detailing Jesus’ ministry in Judea. The reason for Jesus’ departure from Judea, according to John, was because of what was happening in Judea, namely, the Pharisees’ knowledge of Jesus’ growing ministry and popularity with the people. The synoptic Gospel writers, however, devoted most of their Gospel accounts detailing what Jesus taught and did in Galilee. From their Galilean perspective, what brought Jesus into Galilee, which was Herod Antipas’ domain, was what Herod Antipas did. He imprisoned the Baptist. [144]

FNPhilip I is not to be confused with another half-brother, Philip II. Unlike his half-brothers Antipas, Archelaus, and Philip II who were given rulership and a domain upon their father’s death, Philip I did not inherit a domain. Thus, he lived the life of a private citizen. [145]

FNHerodias was not only his wife: she was also his half-niece! Herodias was the daughter of Aristobulus, Herod the Great’s son by Mariamne I. Aristobulus and Philip I were half-brothers. In marrying Philip I, then, Herodias married her half-uncle. [146]

FNWhen the daughter of Aretas discovered the plot, she ran off to her father the King. Aretas then went to war with Antipas and defeated him. The Romans, however, prevented Aretas from taking Antipas’ tetrarchy away from him. Thus, Antipas remained in power in Galilee and Perea. [147]

FNAccording to Josephus, Antipas imprisoned John because he was afraid that the Baptist’s denunciations might incite the people to rebel against him (Antiquities xviii,5,2). As we have seen in the previous pages of our study, the general populace held John in admiration and esteem. Were it not for this, Antipas would have undoubtedly put John to death right away (Matthew 14:5). Additionally, the fact that John was arrested and imprisoned in the tetrarchy of Antipas suggests that John the Baptist last ministered in the territory under Antipas’ rule. The last time we find John baptizing is in John 3:23. This has led some scholars to believe that Aenon was located somewhere in the vicinity where Samaria, Perea, and Decapolis met in a common border. By crossing the Jordan and baptizing along the eastern banks of the River, John would have been in Perea, hence, under Antipas’ rule. [148]

FNUpon his brother’s death, a man may marry his brother’s wife-now-widow if his brother had no offspring by her (Deuteronomy 25:5,6, referred to in Matthew 22:23ff). [149]

FNThe term that Matthew and Mark both use is ouk exesti, meaning, it is not possible or permitted. In the context of Old Testament marriage laws, the KJV translation it is not lawful is an accurate one. Since the Old Testament dispensation was still in progress at this time, Antipas’ marriage to Herodias, being unlawful, was incestuous and adulterous. In addition, note that by strictly Old Testament standards, the remarriage itself did not constitute adultery. It was the fact that Antipas married his brother’s wife that constituted the sin: it is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife (Mark 6:18). [150]

FNGod goes on to tell Ezekiel in Ezekiel 2:6-8a (CEV), Don't be afraid of them or of anything they say. You may think you're in the middle of a thorn patch or a bunch of scorpions. But be brave (7) and preach my message to them, whether they choose to listen or not. (8a) Ezekiel, don't rebel against me, as they have done. Instead, listen to everything I tell you.” [150a]

FNMatthew, Mark, and Luke wrote a lot about Jesus' Galilean ministry. Only three events of that ministry are recorded in John's Gospel account: the healing of the nobleman's son (4:46-54), the feeding of the five thousand (6:5-13), and the healing of the lame man by the Pool of Bethesda (5:1-9). Of these three events, the feeding of the five thousand is the only incident from Jesus' Galilean ministry that is recorded by all four Gospel writers. The healing of the nobleman's son and of the lame man by the Pool of Bethesda are unique or peculiar to John's Gospel account. [151]

FNThe word nobleman (basilikos) can either mean: (a) a person of royal blood, a member of royalty; or (b) a royal official, a person—civil or military—in the service of a king. The fact that Jesus mildly reproves him for not believing unless he sees signs and wonders (4:48, compare with 2:23, 6:30, 1 Corinthians 1:22) gives indication that the nobleman was a Jew who was in the service of Herod Antipas. Thus, he would not have been a member of the Herodian family since the Herodians were not considered Jews. [152]

FNAccording to the Jewish reckoning of time, yesterday at the seventh hour would be l P.M. By Roman time, it would be 7 P.M. So when exactly was the child healed? The facts of the incident are these. (1) The nobleman traveled from his home in Capernaum to Cana where Jesus was. (2) The distance between Capernaum and Cana was about sixteen miles, most of it over hilly terrain. A one-way trip, according to the best of estimates, would have taken anywhere from 7 to 10 hours. It was not customary for a Jew to travel after dusk. (3) The child was healed around the seventh hour on the same day that the nobleman petitioned Jesus for his son's healing. (4) After Jesus told him to go thy way, thy son liveth, the man began his journey back to Capernaum. (5) At this same time back in Capernaum, the nobleman's servants saw that the child was getting better. In all good probability, they waited a few hours to verify the child's improved condition, then made their way towards Cana to tell their master the good news of the child's recovery. (6) The next day, while both nobleman and servants were traveling, they met along the road and it was here, somewhere between Cana and Capernaum, where the nobleman knew for a fact that his son's recovery was the direct result of Jesus' healing power. Based on these considerations, the greater likelihood is that the son was healed around 7 P.M. When the nobleman heard Jesus was in Cana, he left his home in Capernaum sometime in the morning, arrived in Cana late that afternoon, presented his petition to Jesus around 7 P.M. that evening, spent the night in Cana, traveled back to Capernaum the next morning and met up with his servants along the road sometime around mid-morning or noon. [153]

FNSome have confused and equated this healing of the nobleman's son with that of the centurion's servant in Matthew 8. These, however, are two separate events. One involves a son, the other, a servant; one, a Jew, the other, a Roman; one weak in faith and reproved, the other, strong in faith and commended. [154]

FNTwo things brought the nobleman to Jesus: (1) the urgency and desperation of his need. The son whom he loved was dying. Brethren, the severity of a trial ought all the more to drive us to Jesus. Yet, the exact opposite is often the case for many of God’s people. The sicker they are, the less inclined they are to seek the Lord and trust Him for healing. When the trial has come to a hopeless point and death is a foregone conclusion, a lot of people will give up and quit praying. They’ll sit still in Capernaum and wait for death to come. They won’t pray anymore for God to heal them or their dying loved one. The sicker they are, the less inclined they are to seek the Lord and ask Him for healing. [155]

I do not stand in judgment or criticism of anyone, living or dead. I know what it’s like to be at death’s doors. I’ve been there several times. When you’re tired and hurting really bad you just want for the trial to be over: you want to give up and go home to be with the Lord where you won’t have to hurt anymore. I’m not criticizing anyone who goes that route. I’m not saying they’re wrong.

But note that the severity of the trial brought the nobleman to Jesus. He did the exact opposite of what most of us would do. Brethren, the severity of the trial ought to drive us more to Jesus, not away from Him.

As a father myself who've gone through the emotional, mental, and spiritual wringer with sick children, I am just astounded by the nobleman's faith and desperation. He was willing to leave his boy’s bedside and seek out Jesus because he believes that Jesus can heal his dying boy. Even though the doctors can’t save him, even though the boy’s dying; the father refuses to accept death and do nothing. He hears about the Miracle Worker being close by and he chooses to believe that the Miracle Worker can save his son.

Brethren, can you believe God for healing when you’re dying? The nobleman did. And Jesus ended up healing the boy. It doesn’t work like this every single time because we all have a time to die. But the shining truth that we see here is, if you’re willing to believe for healing in the face of death, God will honor your faith and heal you. THE THREAT OF DEATH DOESN’T HAVE TO SPELL THE DEATH OF YOUR FAITH. WHAT LOOKS LIKE THE END OF YOUR LIFE DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THE END OF YOUR FAITH. YOU CAN STILL BELIEVE GOD FOR HEALING IN THE FACE OF PENDING DEATH. DON’T LET YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES, YOUR DOCTOR, YOUR BODY, OTHER MEN, OR THE DEVIL; TELL YOU WHAT YOU CAN, OR CAN’T, BELIEVE GOD FOR.

(2) Notice in the second place that the nobleman's knowledge of Jesus' miraculous works and power brought him to Jesus. Friends, when you hear from people or from the Scriptures what Jesus can do and what He’s done for others, this ought to fill your heart with faith and hope that Jesus can do the same for you. Go to Him and ask! [155]

FNIn the New Testament, when faith is conditioned on the seeing of signs and wonders, reference is generally always to the Jews (see 2:23, 6:30, 1 Corinthians 1:22). Now the faith that is spoken of in these passages of Scripture is faith in Jesus as Messiah or Son of God. The Jews believed in Jesus' miraculous power and works. They could not argue with the miracles they saw. What they doubted, however, was His identity as Messiah and Son of God. In this reproof to the nobleman, then, Jesus is not reproving the man for his lack of faith. The man had faith in the sense that he believed Jesus could heal his son. What Jesus reproved, rather, is the man’s hesitance or unwillingness to accept Him as Messiah and Son of God without first seeing Him heal his sick son. After the miracle was performed, the nobleman became a believer in Christ, thus confirming the truth of Jesus' reproof. [156]

FNThe reproof, then, wasn't denial. It wasn't a sign that Jesus didn't want to heal the boy. To the contrary, it was a sign that the man needed to work on his faith and come to a point where faith would be free from the encumbrances of fear, doubt, or the seeing of miracles. [157]

Note how Jesus healed the boy: He spoke a word. How hard is that? Jesus said the sick need a physician (Luke 5:31) and ever since then, so many of God's people have forgotten all about God healing power. God is the Christian's Doctor (Exodus 15:26). I'm thankful for the life-saving difference that doctors are in the lives of so many sick people. But doctors aren't your only answer of hope of healing! Your God heals! In fact, He can heal where medical science can’t. Jesus can succeed where doctors fail. Dear friend, don’t limit you faith for healing by what the doctors say or can, or cannot, do. Put your faith in God because God can heal what doctors can't. [157]

FN(A) Mary and Martha started out believing that Jesus would come right away and heal their sick brother. When Lazarus died, their faith pretty much died with him. What did Jesus do? He spoke to them and the words He spoke revived faith in their hearts. He then went to the tomb and raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11). (B) Peter started out believing when he walked on water. When he became fearful, he started to sink. As a man of the seas by profession, he could have swam. I suspect he didn't try because he knew it would do no good in storm-tossed, troubled seas. Though hampered by fear, Peter cried out to the Lord and the Lord saved him (Matthew 14). (C) The father of the demon-tormented boy suffered every time he saw his son being buffeted by the Devil. He believed the Lord could deliver his son, but he still battled some unbelief. Did the Lord forsake him for his unbelief? No, the Lord delivered his son (Mark 9). [158]

Most assuredly, the New Testament is replete with the need for God's people to believe as a condition or requirement for answered prayer. But God is not so hard or discompassionate as to leave us to our certain, inevitable end. Like these in Scripture, HE HELPS US WHEN OUR FAITH FALTERS. In weakness and in trouble, His invitation to us is to come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16, see also 2:18). He is with us in trouble (Psalm 91:15) and delivers us from all our troubles (Psalm 34:17). If we should fail to believe as we ought; if our faith is encumbered for whatever reason; let's not turn away from the Lord and fail to seek Him for our miracle. Remember the nobleman and these others that I've just cited for you. Come to Jesus and ask. Jesus will help...because Jesus cares. [158]

FNThe Shema consisted of three passages from the Torah: Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 11:13-21, and Numbers 15:37-41. It is to be recited by every Jew two times a day: once in the morning and once in the evening. [159]

FNThese prayers were composed at different periods of time. Shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, Rabbi Gamaliel, or one of his students named Rabbi Samuel, added a nineteenth prayer directed against all apostates and heretics—a veiled reference to Christians. The synagogue prayers are as follows. [160]

Opening Prayers

I. Blessed be Thou, O Lord, King of the world, Who formest the light and createst the darkness, Who makest peace, and createst everything; Who, in mercy, givest light to the earth, and to those who dwell upon it, and in Thy goodness, day by day, and every day, renewest the works of creation. Blessed be the Lord our God for the glory of His handiworks, and for the light-giving lights which He has made for His praise. Selah. Blessed be the Lord our God, Who has formed the lights.
II. With great love hast Thou loved us, O Lord our God, and with much overflowing pity hast Thou pitied us, our Father and our King. For the sake of our fathers who trusted in Thee, and Thou taughtest them the statutes of life, have mercy upon us, and teach us. Enlighten our eyes in Thy Law; cause our hearts to cleave to Thy commandments; unite our hearts to love and fear Thy Name, and we shall not be put to shame, world without end. For Thou art a God Who preparest salvation, and us hast Thou chosen from among all nations and tongues, and hast in truth brought us near to Thy great Name--Selah--that we may lovingly praise Thee and Thy Unity. Blessed be the Lord, Who in love chose His people Israel.

The Kirioth-Shema

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: (5) And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (6) And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: (7) And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (8) And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. (9) And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
Deuteronomy 11:13-21 And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, (14) That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil. (15) And I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full. (16) Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; (17) And then the LORD’S wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the LORD giveth you. (18) Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. (19) And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (20) And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates: (21) That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.
Numbers 15:37-41 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, (38) Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: (39) And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: (40) That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God. (41) I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD your God.

Prayer After the Kirioth-Shema

III. True it is that Thou art Yahweh, our God, and the God of our fathers, our King, and the King of our fathers, our Saviour, and the Saviour of our fathers, our Creator, the Rock of our Salvation, our Help and our Deliverer. Thy Name is from everlasting, and there is no God beside Thee. A new song did they that were delivered sing to Thy Name by the sea-shore; together did all praise and own Thee King, and say, Yahweh shall reign, world without end! Blessed be the God Who saveth Israel.

The Shemoneh Esreh or Nineteen Prayers

1. Blessed be thou, O Lord our God, the God of our fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isasac, the God of Jacob, the great God, powerful and tremendous, the high God, bountifully dispensing benefits, the creator and possessor of the universe, who rememberest the good deeds of our fathers, and in thy love sendest a Redeemer to those who are descended from them, for thy name's sake, O King our Lord and helper, our Saviour and our shield. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who art the shield of Abraham!
2. Thou, O Lord, art powerful for ever; thou raisest the dead to life, and art mighty to save; thou sendest down the dew, stillest the winds, and makest the rain to come down upon the earth, and sustainest with thy beneficence all that are therein; and of thy abundant mercy makest the dead again to live. Thou raisest up those who fall; thou healest the sick, thou loosest them who are bound, and makest good thy word of truth to those who sleep in the dust. Who is to be compared to thee, O thou Lord of might! and who is like unto thee, O our King, who killest and makest alive, and makest salvation to spring as the grass in the field! Thou art faithful to make the dead to rise again to life. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who raisest the dead again to life!
3. Thou art holy, and thy name is holy, and thy saints do praise thee every day. Selah. For a great king and a holy art thou, O God. Blessed art thou, O Lord God, most holy!
4. Thou of thy mercy givest knowledge unto men, and teachest them understanding: give graciously unto us knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who graciously givest knowledge unto men!
5. Bring us back, O our Father, to the observance of thy law, and make us to adhere to thy precepts, and do thou, O our King, draw us near to thy worship, and convert us to thee by perfect repentance in thy presence. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who vouchsafest to receive us by repentance!
6. Be thou merciful unto us, O our Father: for we have sinned: pardon us, O our King, for we have transgressed against thee. For thou art a God, good and ready to pardon. Blessed art thou, O Lord most gracious, who multipliest thy mercies in the forgiveness of sins!
7. Look, we beseech thee, upon our afflictions. Be thou on our side in all our contentions, and plead thou our cause in all our litigations; and make haste to redeem us with a perfect redemption for thy name's sake. For thou art our God, our King, and a strong Redeemer. Blessed art thou, O Lord, the Redeemer of Israel!
8. Heal us, O Lord our God, and we shall be healed; save us, and we shall be saved. For thou art our praise. Bring unto us sound health, and a perfect remedy for all our infirmities, and for all our griefs, and for all our wounds. For thou art a God who healest and art merciful. Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, who curest the diseases of thy people Israel!
9. Bless us, O Lord our God, in every work of our hands, and bless unto us the seasons of the year, and give us the dew and the rain to be a blessing unto us, upon the face of all our land, and satiate the world with thy blessings, and send down moisture upon every part of the earth that is habitable. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who givest thy blessing to the years!
10. Gather us together by the sound of the great trumpet, to the enjoyment of our liberty; and lift up thy ensign to call together all the captivity, from the four quarters of the earth into our own land. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who gatherest together the exiles of the people of Israel!
11. Restore unto us our judges as at the first, and our counsellors as at the beginning; and remove far from us affliction and trouble, and do thou only reign over us in benignity, and in mercy, and in righteousness, and in justice. Blessed art thou, O Lord our king, who lovest righteousness and justice!
12. Let there be no hope to them, who apostatise from the true religion; and let heretics, how many soever they be, all perish as in a moment. And let the kingdom of pride be speedily rooted out and broken in our days. Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, who destroyest the wicked, and bringest down the proud!
13. Upon the pious and the just, and upon the proselytes of justice, and upon the remnant of thy people of the house of Israel, let thy mercies be moved, O Lord our God, and give a good reward unto all who faithfully put their trust in thy name; and grant us our portion with them, and for ever let us not be ashamed, for we put our trust in thee. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who art the support and confidence of the just!
14. Dwell thou in the midst of Jerusalem, thy city, as thou hast promised: build it with a building to last for ever, and do this speedily even in our days. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who buildest Jerusalem!
15. Make the offspring of David thy servant speedily to grow up, and flourish; and let our horn be exalted in thy salvation. For we hope for thy salvation every day. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who makest the horn of our salvation to flourish!
16. Hear our voice, O Lord our God, most merciful Father, pardon and have mercy upon us, and accept of our prayers with thy mercy and favour, and send us not away from thy presence, O our king. For thou hearest with mercy the prayer of thy people Israel. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who hearest prayer!
17. Be thou well pleased, O Lord our God, with thy people Israel; and have regard unto their prayers; restore thy worship to the inner part of thy house, and make haste with favour and love to accept the burnt sacrifices of Israel, and their prayers; and let the worship of Israel thy people be continually well pleasing unto thee. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who restorest thy divine presence to Zion!
18. We will give thanks unto thee with praise. For thou art the Lord our God, the God of our fathers, for ever and ever. Thou art our rock, and the rock of our life, and the shield of our salvation. To all generations will we give thanks unto thee, and declare thy praise, because of our life which is always in
thy hands, and because of thy signs, which are every day with us, and because of thy wonders, and marvelous loving-kindness, which are morning, and evening, and night before us. Thou art good, for thy mercies are not consumed; thou art merciful, for thy loving kindnesses fail not. For ever we hope in thee. And for all these mercies be thy name, O king, blessed and exalted, and lifted up on high for ever and ever; and let all that live give thanks unto thee. Selah. And let them in truth and sincerity praise thy name, O God of our salvation, and our help. Selah. Blessed art thou, O Lord, whose name is good, and to whom it is fitting always to give praise!
19. Give peace, beneficence, and benediction, grace, benignity, and mercy unto us, and to Israel thy people. Bless us, our Father, even all of us together as one man, with the light of thy countenance. For in the light of thy countenance hast thou given unto us, O Lord our God, the law of life, and love, and benignity, and righteousness, and blessing, and mercy, and life, and peace. And let it seem good in thine eyes to bless thy people Israel with thy peace at all times, and in every moment. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who blessest thy people Israel with peace! Amen. [160]

FNShorter sections of the Paraschioth were combined and read on a Sabbath, thus enabling the entire Law to be read in a year. See Thomas H. Horne, An Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, Vol. III, pages 254-55, Baker Book House, 1970. According to Edersheim, Palestinian synagogues followed a different plan whereby the Law was divided in 154 sections. Within this framework, the entire Law was read over a three-year period (The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Vol. I, page 444). [161]

FNThe recording by Matthew and Mark of a similar rejection in Nazareth (Matt. 13:54-58, Mark 6:1-6) has led some scholars to conclude that there was only one rejection of Jesus in Nazareth; that it took place some time after Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount according to Matthew's chronology; and that Luke here departed from his chronology by placing this account at the start of Jesus' early Galilean ministry. See Dr. I. Howard Marshall, New International Greek Testament Commentary: Commentary on Luke, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, pages 177-180. [162]

FNA Haphtarah ordinarily consisted of no less than twenty-one verses, but liberty was extended to the reader to read much less than that for the purposes of his exposition. As quoted by Luke, Jesus only read portions of the first two verses of Isaiah 61 and, quite possibly, a portion of Isaiah 58:6. [163]

FNIn essence, Jesus gave the first revelation of Himself as the Messiah of the Jews to His hometown crowd. [163a]

FNThe phrase comes from the Greek martureo which means 'to be a witness, to testify'. In the context in which it is used in this passage, the verb means 'to give a good or favorable report, to speak well of'. When the citizens of Nazareth heard their fellow townsman preach, their initial reaction was one of favor and amazement. Though Jesus was a carpenter, He was also a very good preacher! [164]

FNEverything was going well as far as Jesus' sermon was concerned. Then He does something totally inexplicable: He riles His friends and neighbors up and blows them away! Why does He do that? It's certainly not a way to win friends and influence people. In fact, it makes it look like Jesus deliberately did that just to prove the point that a prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown. I certainly wouldn't have ticked the hometown crowd. Would you? It just goes to show that our ways are not God's ways (Isa. 55:8-9). Brethren, don't think that just because you'd do something that God would do the same thing too. God is soooo not like you and me! [164a]

FNAccording to I Kings 17 and 18:1, the drought lasted at least three years. Jesus here tells exactly how long it lasted: 3½ years. James confirms the testimony in James 5:17. [165]

FNThe story of Naaman is found in II Kings 5. [166]

FNTo this day, Nazareth is built on a hill. On the western side of the town is a rocky precipice about 40 to 50 feet high where this incident is said to have taken place. [167]

FNEven though Jesus was being manhandled and surrounded by a crowd of angry men, God kept the people from fulfilling their plan. Exactly what He did, or how He did it, we are not told. The point of the matter is, God had Jesus in His hands, He frustrated the people's attempt to kill Jesus, and Jesus was able to escape. My friends, when death by persecution looks certain to you with no way of escape, remember this incident. GOD HAS YOU IN HIS HANDS: HE WON'T ALLOW THE PEOPLE TO KILL YOU UNLESS IT'S HIS WILL AND UNLESS IT'S HIS TIME. If you know it's not His will and not His time, you can believe the Lord for deliverance and escape! In such an instance, my friends, running or escaping from persecution is not wrong. It's not cowardly or unchristian! While Jesus' deliverance from this angry mob was supernatural, Jesus, nevertheless, had to do the walking; He was not supernaturally transported. The supernaturalness of God’s deliverance does not mean you won’t have to walk, run, or hide, to get away from your persecutors. [168]

FNAccording to rabbinical teaching (Sanh. 81 b), instant death without formal trial was permissible in cases of blasphemy or profanation. Since Jesus did not commit these acts, the Nazarenes were in plain violation of the law. This goes to show that WHEN YOU'RE INTENT ON HURTING SOMEONE, YOU DON'T CARE WHAT THE LAW OR THE WORD SAYS: YOU'LL DO IT ANYWAY! YOU'LL DISREGARD WHAT'S RIGHT JUST TO DO WHAT'S WRONG. In this way, anger is temporary insanity and blindness: it causes you to lose your mind and your sight. [169]

The Nazarenes earned the dubious distinction of being the first people (after Herod the Great) who tried to kill Jesus.

FNWhile the Nazarenes knew Jesus all to well, did they really know Him? From Matthew 13:58, the townsfolk never got past the fact that Jesus was just a carpenter's Son. He wasn't anyone more than this to them. My friends, THE FACT THAT YOU'VE KNOWN SOMEONE ALL YOUR LIFE, OR THAT YOU KNOW SOMEONE ALL TOO WELL, CAN, IF YOU LET IT, WORK TO YOUR DISADVANTAGE. Like the Nazarenes, your intimacy or familiarity with a person can prevent you from accepting that person as anyone more than just a friend, a relative, or a neighbor. It can prevent you from believing that God really has a call upon this person's life. And because you don't believe, you therefore, don't honor or respect this person as a genuine God-called, God-anointed, God-empowered, servant. In this way, FAMILIARITY NOT ONLY BREEDS CONTEMPT: IT ALSO BREEDS UNBELIEF AND DISRESPECT. My friends, do we make this same mistake of the Nazarenes with regard to one another? If you have a hard time believing or respecting someone you know really well, including your minister or pastor, chances are, it has to do with your view of him. To you, he's just a carpenter's son and no more! [170]

FNWhat did the Nazarenes' contempt for Jesus cost them? Well, they didn't see the miracles that they wanted to see; they weren't recipients of God's mighty power working through Jesus; nor did they benefit from the many good sermons Jesus taught. Brethren, like the Nazarenes, WE DEPRIVE OURSELVES OF PRECIOUS MIRACLES, MESSAGES, AND MINISTRIES, IF WE REFUSE TO SEE ONE ANOTHER AS MORE THAN JUST A CARPENTER'S SON!

So what's the cure for this problem of familiarity, unbelief, and contempt? I'm not so sure the answer is withdrawing, disengaging, or distancing ourselves from one another. Depriving ourselves of fellowship is not the cure! THE CURE IS TO NOT LET OUR FELLOWSHIP OR FAMILIARITY WITH ONE ANOTHER GET IN THE WAY OF OUR FAITH, ACCEPTANCE, AND RESPECT OF ONE ANOTHER. We must start with the faith and recognition that each one in the Body has been set in the Body by God. Each one has a calling, a gift, and a ministry. By seeing one another in this way and upholding this view of one another as of prime importance, then fellowship and familiarity won't cause us to see one another in any lesser way than this. Brethren, OUR FELLOWSHIP WITH ONE ANOTHER WILL BECOME, AND REMAIN, THE BLESSING IT WAS INTENDED TO BE—AND NOT A CURSE OR DISADVANTAGE; WHEN WE FIRST OF ALL ACCEPT ONE ANOTHER AS BEING THE CALLED, ELECT, AND COMMISSIONED, OF GOD. [171]

FNNazarenes are still with us today. I'm not talking about the denomination. I'm talking about people who will Amen the preacher and the message as long as the message is non-confrontational, non-intrusive, and non-personal. As soon as the message starts getting personal and revelatory of what's really wrong in the heart, when the preacher goes to meddling and reproving; modern-day Nazarenes will get mad and murder! Not with hands, mind you, but with the tongue of false accusation and slander. It goes to show that UNREPENTANT PEOPLE WOULD RATHER KILL THE MINISTER THAN DEAL WITH WHAT'S WRONG IN THEIR HEARTS. [172]

FNThe city is no longer in existence. The remains of a synagogue excavated at Tell Hum have led many archaeologists to believe that the Tell was the site of ancient Capernaum. [173]

FNLuke tells us that when Jesus came to Capernaum, He taught the people on Sabbath days (Luke 4:31). Now a man could only teach at the invitation of the synagogue's chief ruler: he could not teach any time he wanted to. The fact that Jesus taught so many times in the synagogue in Capernaum suggests that the synagogue's chief ruler thought highly of Him and respected His doctrine. Certainly, the ruler would not have extended this privilege to Jesus more than once if he was opposed to Jesus' teaching. We don't know if there was more than one synagogue in Capernaum. Jairus, whose daughter Jesus healed (Matthew 9:18-26), lived in Capernaum and was a chief ruler of a synagogue (Luke 8:40-41). If his was the same synagogue that Jesus frequented, then it's understandable how Jesus could teach so often in this synagogue. Jairus not only respected His teaching, but also believed in Jesus' power to heal. Judging from his conduct, I believe Jairus became a believer and follower of Christ too. Friends, if you’re willing to give Jesus the floor and hear Him speak, you would become a believer too! [174]

FNWhen these fishermen-disciples left Jesus in Samaria, they went back to their families in Capernaum and resumed their fishing vocation. Apparently, what these fishermen did was they would leave home, stay with the Baptist or Jesus for a while and help minister, then return home and fish for a while. They probably made enough money from these intermittent periods of fishing to support their families and themselves while they were away with the Master. That this was so seems to be supported by Luke's account of the fishermen's call in Luke 5:1-11. After returning from their first tour of ministry in Galilee, the fishermen went back to fishing, then Jesus called them a third time to follow Him. The use of from henceforth thou shalt catch men in Luke 5:10 suggests that this was Jesus' call to the fishermen to follow Him and minister with Him on a full-time basis. Interestingly enough, with the exception of a one night stint after Jesus' resurrection (John 21), there is no mention of the fishermen-disciples returning to their vocation after this third call in Luke 5. [175]

FNWhy did the disciples leave Jesus in Samaria? Probably because they wanted to get back home to their families and make some money. If they were adamantly opposed to Jesus ministering to Samaritans, or the Gentiles as well, it is unlikely that they would have followed Him so immediately and unquestioningly. My friends, TO FOLLOW JESUS SO COMPLETELY AND BE A MINISTER OR SERVANT FOR HIM YOU CAN'T HAVE ANY PREJUDICES OR GRUDGES AGAINST PEOPLE! [176]

FNThe Bible doesn't argue or defend the reality or existence of demons, nor does it argue or defend the fact that people can be oppressed, possessed, inhabited, or controlled to varying degrees by demons. A lot of people today deny the existence and work of demons. We either believe them or believe the Lord and His Scriptures. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know who I'm going to believe. As a Spirit-filled believer and preacher, I've seen demons at work in too many people to deny the reality of demons and the Scriptural record. Demonic possession or control did not cease when Jesus died, but it's a sad and tragic phenomenon that continues to our present day. This is hinted in the Lord's commission for us to cast out demons (Mark 16:17, see also Acts 16:16-18) and it's evidenced in increased role that demons will play in the end times (1 Tim. 4:1, 1 John 4:1-3, Rev. 9:1-11, 11:7, 16:13-14, 17:8, 18:1-2, 20:7-10). See AN below for additional information on demonic possession. [176a]

FNNotice that the deliverance was effected without consultation or counseling. Jesus didn't sit down with the oppressed man and ask if he wanted to be delivered, nor did He get the man to repent first and renounce or repudiate the unclean spirit for himself. While there's a place for consultation, repentance, and renunciation; when a demon is manifesting, consultation is not the course of action to take. My friends, take authority over the demon and command it to go in Jesus’ Name. It'll go irrespective of how the oppressed person feels about it because the demon has to obey your word and authority. After the demon goes, deal with the person and show him the need for repentance, righteousness, and keeping the door closed to the Devil's return (Matthew 12:43-45). [177]

FNNot much is known about any of the disciples' personal lives. What we know of Peter is almost entirely stated in this passage of Scripture. He was married, his wife's mother lived with them, and his home was in Capernaum. The inclusion of Andrew in the house of Simon and Andrew (Mark 1:29) suggests that Andrew also lived with his brother in the same house. [178]

FNThe word rebuked is the Greek epitimao, which means 'to admonish, reprimand, or enjoin strictly'. The idea, by implication, is to forbid a continuing action. In the New Testament, a fever is rebuked (Luke 4:39), as also are devils (Luke 4:35,41), adverse or inclement weather (Matthew 8:26), and erring people (Luke 9:55, 2 Timothy 4:2). In all these instances, the same word, epitimao, is used. Whether you view fever as a strictly physical illness, or else view it as an oppression or work of the Devil (Acts 10:38), one thing is certain. The sickness and symptoms respond to the spoken word of rebuke. Divine, supernatural healing involves rebuking. LIKE REBUKING A DEMON, BRETHREN, TELL THE SICKNESS WHAT TO DO AND THE SICKNESS MUST OBEY! Don't try to figure it out. Sicknesses don't have ears! The spoken command of faith and authority gets things done (Mark 11:23, the prayer of faith in James 5:15a has this same effect)! [179]

FNThe people waited till evening because of the Pharisaic prohibition against carrying a burden on the Sabbath. To carry the sick on that day was tantamount to working on the Sabbath. Now the Jewish day ran from 6 PM to 6 PM. The Sabbath, then, started at 6 PM Friday evening and ended at 6 PM Saturday, or Sabbath, evening. Since there were no clocks back then, the law stipulated that Sabbath was ended when three stars could be seen in the evening sky. [180]

FNWhat is conspicuously absent at this early stage of ministry in Galilee is controversies with the Pharisees and religious leaders concerning Jesus' activities on the Sabbath. As a general rule, Galileans were not as strict in their religious observances or piety as their brethren in Judea. Even so, the Pharisees would eventually tread on Galilean soil to challenge Jesus' Sabbath miracles. [181]

FNWhy didn't Jesus want demons to publicize the truth concerning His real identity? (1) One probable explanation is because He didn't want the people's political expectations commonly associated with Messiah to hinder the true spiritual work He had come to Earth to do. He did not come to be crowned King of Israel and the world. But rather, He came to be crucified and resurrected as the Savior of all men. (2) A second likely explanation is, for Him to allow demons to openly proclaim His identity would have lent credence to the Pharisees' accusation that He was working hand-in-hand with Beelzebub, the prince of demons (Matthew 12:24, Mark 3:22). [182]

FNDemons knew the truth of Jesus' identity and proclaimed it (Matt. 8:29, Mark 1:24, 3:11, Luke 4:41). Notice, however, what Jesus did. He stopped them from proclaiming it! He didn't want them to say a word about it! Do you know what this says, brethren? It says that even though demons can proclaim the truth to men, Jesus did not use them in the work of evangelism. Even though what they said was right or true, Jesus did not enlist them in the service of the Kingdom. It goes back to what Paul asked in 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 (NLT), How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? Like these testimonies of demons, occult mediums such as magic and ventriloquism can speak truth and testify the truth to men. In fact, many Christians and churches use them in the furtherance of the Gospel. But the point is, they shouldn't be so used! The ends accomplished do not justify the means used. While the truth was being proclaimed, Jesus didn’t want demons proclaiming it. Jesus didn’t need or want the help of demons! He entrusted the work of evangelism to believers. A woeful lot indeed we are when we should need the help of demons to do our job! [183]

FNThere’s one catch. You've got to bring your need to Jesus. And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils (Mark 1:32). My friend, IF YOU WANT JESUS TO HEAL YOU, THEN GO TO JESUS AND ASK. THE HEALING IS WORTH THE PRAYER. [184]

FNHow do you think the disciples and people felt when Jesus turned them down and left them without doing another miracle for them? You’d think Jesus was rude, inconsiderate, discourteous or unkind. Brethren, when you obey the Lord and follow His Spirit’s leading you’re going to end up disappointing people. Some people will not understand, agree, or like, the decisions you make. It might look like you’re making the wrong decision. But YOUR STRENGTH AND RESOLVE TO DO GOD’S WILL COMES FROM YOUR HAVING SPENT TIME WITH GOD IN PRAYER AND LEARNING FROM HIM WHAT HIS WILL IS. Don't let people--their criticism, briberies, threats, or reaction--make your decisions for you. [184a]

FNAlthough Matthew and Luke are silent on this point, Mark's inclusion of us in Jesus' words to His disciples, let us go into the next towns (Mark 1:38) suggests that the four fishermen-disciples accompanied Jesus on this ministry tour of Galilee. Conspicuously enough, there is no mention of them doing any preaching or miracles. It was, perhaps, a time for them to watch and learn. Later on, Jesus would empower and commission these men to go forth and preach, heal, and cast out demons (Matthew 10:1ff). [185]

FNSyria was the province to the north of Galilee. It was home to a considerable Jewish population. Two of its principal cities mentioned in the New Testament are Antioch and Damascus. Capernaum was situated along a major highway that led to Damascus. Another highway along the Mediterranean coast led from Antioch to Tyre, Galilee, Gaza, and ultimately, Egypt. [186]

FNNote a couple of things with me in this verse. All kinds of people who were sick and afflicted with all sorts of sicknesses and diseases came to Jesus to healing and He healed them! Brethren, it doesn’t matter what disease you have. Don't let the name, nature, or prognosis of your affliction keep you from coming to God for healing. Whatever you've got, that's not going to stop God from healing you. Are you kidding? God can heal anything and everything. Come to God, listen to Jesus, listen to Him preach, get into the Word, and faith for healing will arise.

Note also in this verse that when it comes to healing and deliverance, it’s God’s will to heal you and set you free from demons. There were no exceptions. No one went home sick still or possessed still. When they came to Jesus, Jesus healed them and got all the demons out of them. Friend, YOU’RE NOT AN EXCEPTION! YOU WON'T BE CURED AS LONG AS YOU SEE YOURSELF AS AN EXCEPTION. God's will to heal and deliver applies to you! [186a]

FNDecapolis, or Ten Cites, consisted of Damascus, Kanata, Dion, Hippos, Gadara, Abila, Scythopolis, Pella, Geresa, and Philadelphia. Parts of Decapolis were located northeast of Samaria and Galilee, but for the most part, the federation lay on the eastern shore of Jordan, just above Perea. [187]

FNBeyond the Jordan refers to the region on the eastern shore of Jordan, which included Perea. Galilee and Perea were both ruled by Herod Antipas; Decapolis was a separate governing district. [188]

FNLeprosy is known today as Hansen's disease, so named after a Norwegian who discovered the bacillus common in all cases of leprosy and which he named Myobacterium Leprae.

The cleansing of the leper is recorded by all three synoptic Gospel writers. Remembering that chronology was not foremost in the minds of these writers, the exact timing of this incident is rather difficult to place. According to Matthew, the incident happened after Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount; Mark places it during Jesus' first tour of Galilee, while Luke places it after Jesus' return from that tour. Unlike key indicators that help us formulate a reasonably accurate chronology of Jesus' life—indicators such as the death of Herod, the fourteenth year of Tiberius' reign, the forty-sixth year of the Temple's remodeling, the Passovers, and the like; a debate on the timing of this miracle adds no real value to the over-all chronology of Jesus' life. [189]

FNThe odor of rotting flesh is truly disgusting and the dismemberment or disfigurement, most gruesome. The symptoms are far too unappetizing and unedifying for me to say even more! [190]

FNIt takes faith AND obedience to get healed. Remember that God is the Doctor. And, like any earthly doctor, you've got to obey the Doctor's orders if you want to be healed. It’s like taking medicine. The only way the medicine is going to help you is if you take it. The medicine isn’t going to work if you don’t take it. In much the same way, there’s a lot of healing power in God’s promise. But God’s medicine or promise isn’t going to heal you if you don’t believe or obey it. [190a]

We've looked at the Doctor's orders relating to faith. But His orders also include obedience. Exodus 15:26 instructs us, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee. You can have all the faith in the world, but faith isn't going to get you healed if you’re not obedient. You can’t disobey God and expect God to heal you. 1 John 3:22 plainly tells us, And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

When you go to your doctor you obey the doctor’s orders because you understand that you’re not going to get better or healed unless you do what the doctor says, and that includes taking your pills on time, resting, watching your diet, etc. In much the same way, your Dr. God has given you His orders that will get you healed. And the only way you’re going to get healed is if you order His orders. What are His orders? Believe and obey. It's really not that hard. It's such a small price to pay for the privilege of feeling good and being well again. [190a]

FNMark tells us that Jesus was moved with compassion for this leprous man. We can talk a whole lot about faith, but let's not forget to talk about Jesus' compassion. Friends, Jesus loves us. He pities us. He feels our hurt. He knows what it's like to be sick. Seriously, He does! Isaiah 53:4-5 tells us, Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. (5) But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. The word griefs in the Hebrew text literally means sickness or diseases; sorrows means pains. An accurate and a literal translation of the text reads: He bore our sicknesses or diseases and he carried away our pains. When Jesus was on the cross it was like all our pains, sicknesses and diseases were dumped on Him. Our sins were also dumped on Him. He bore not only our punishment for sins: but He also bore our sicknesses and diseases. That’s why He knows what it’s like to be sick, diseased, and dying. He knows your pain. He knows what you’re going through. He loves you. You’re His child. Jesus died to heal you. He doesn’t enjoy seeing you sick and suffering. He wants to heal you. Do you seriously think God doesn't care about you and about what you're going through? What you're feeling? Wow! You are ever soooo totally wrong! God loves you and wants you whole. Give Him your faith and He'll give you your healing. [190b]

FNTwo things about this healing are noteworthy. First, Jesus stretched forth His hand and touched this leper. He did something that no one's supposed to do; something you don't expect a Rabbi to do. Many people today don't believe or expect Jesus to heal. My friends, don't listen to them! AS LONG AS YOU BELIEVE, JESUS WILL DO FOR YOU WHAT OTHER PEOPLE DON'T EXPECT HIM TO DO. And second, if the leprosy was at an advanced stage and some of the leper's bodily appendages had rotted off, this miraculous healing by Jesus would have involved a creative miracle. Brethren, DON'T LIMIT GOD IN WHAT HE CAN DO. God is a Creator and it is absolutely no problem for Him to create and restore what the Devil has taken from you. [191]

FNNote a couple of things with me. First, while the leper, uncertain of Jesus' will, prayed thus, if it be thy will; we, knowing God's will, need no longer pray, Father, if it be thy will, heal me. To the contrary, we are taught to pray according to thy will (1 John 5:14), and thus we should pray, Father, in accordance with your will, heal me. [192]

And second, note the power of Jesus' spoken Word. He spoke the I will: be healed. And, in an instant, the leper was cleansed. Friends, when you believe God speaks the Word and whatever you need to happen, happens.As we see here with the leper, all it takes for God to heal you is His Word. There’s power in His Word. When He speaks the word, His will gets done. Isaiah 55:11 (MSG) shows us the awesome power of God's Word: So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They'll do the work I sent them to do, they'll complete the assignment I gave them. . Psalms 107:20 confirms the testimony, He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.

Brethren, when God speaks sicknesses and diseases go away. They disappear. Don’t try to figure out how this is going to happen because it doesn’t make any logical, scientific, medical sense. Does leprosy have ears? Can a disease hear? Does cancer have a mind that says, “Wow, Jesus told me to disappear, so I’m going to disappear and get off this body?”

Whether sickness is a demonic spirit or a natural ailment, all sicknesses are under God’s orders to obey. You know that a demonic spirit has ears and a mind, so they hear God’s voice and they obey Him. A regular physical ailment isn’t a personal, rational being like humans or demons. But you’ve got to remember that sicknesses are caused by living organisms called bacteria and viruses. They're tiny animals that are unseen to the naked eye. And just as God communicates with the animals and even they have to obey Him, in like manner even bacteria and viruses have to obey God. Nothing in all of creation can defy, oppose, or disobey God. [192]

FNLook at the Scripture text once again. Jesus said I will, then He stretched forth His hand and healed the leper. Do you know what this says? It says that if you're believing and asking, GOD DOES WHAT IS HIS WILL! He reveals His will to the leper, then He heals him! Brethren, take faith in the fact that it's not only God's will to heal, but He also acts on that will. [193]

Now we have a problem. If it's God's will to heal, why aren't some healed? If God does what is His will, why doesn't He always heal those who need healing? Brethren, THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS TO WHO, OR WHAT, GOD WILL HEAL. BUT THERE ARE CONDITIONS. If the leper had stayed home that day he wouldn't have been healed. If he was resigned to his inevitable end and didn't believe that Jesus could heal him, he wouldn't have been healed. It was God’s will to heal, but God didn’t automatically heal him without him having to believe or come. Brethren, it's God will to heal you, but He doesn't heal you automatically without you having to do a thing. HIS ACTIONS WITH RESPECT TO HIS WILL TO HEAL ARE CONDITIONED ON YOUR ACTIONS: you've got to come in faith and ask. Healing, then, is not so much a matter of God's will as it is a matter of whether or not you're willing to believe and pray. [193]

FNThe facts are these: (1) Jesus told the man to keep quiet; (2) even more people clamored after Jesus when they heard this man's testimony; and (3) Jesus’ stay in desert places was the direct result of this man’s actions. Altogether, these facts suggest that this healing of the leper took place in the absence of a multitude of people or witnesses. In other words, the leper came to Jesus when no one, or hardly anyone, was around. Brethren, God makes a way where there seems to be no way. The crowds around Jesus may seem inevitable to you, but God will send them away, or else lead Jesus somewhere private, so that you can have your audience with Him. God sees your faith. He will make a way! [194]

FNWhen Jesus returned from this tour of Galilee, His run-ins with the Pharisees began. Undoubtedly, with so many people following Him, the religious leaders decided to stay close to Jesus and keep a close watch on Him—that’s why Jesus started having more problems with them. Because conflicts with the religious leaders were on the near horizon, some scholars feel that the reason why Jesus wanted the man to see the priests immediately was so that the man could tell them his story and thus, in this way, show them that Jesus was concerned about keeping or obeying the Law: Jesus wanted the cleansed man to do what Leviticus 14 commanded him to do. Jesus was not a lawless Man! [195]

FNDuring His first Galilean tour, multitudes of people were healed. Jesus healed all kinds of sicknesses and diseases (Matthew 4:23-25). Whether several people with leprosy were healed at this time is certainly possible, though it's a matter of speculation because the Scripture record does not list every type of sickness or disease that Jesus healed during His Galilean tour. It's interesting to note that only two specific incidents are recorded in Scripture relating to the healing of a leper: the first is found here in Mark 1:40-45 and the other in Luke 17:11-19 where ten lepers were involved. There is no reason to believe that Jesus healed leprosy on only these two occasions during His entire ministry. But be that as it may, the very nature of the disease lends a high degree of sensationalism whenever the disease is healed. [196]

FNIt’s not that Jesus doesn't want to minister to a lot of people. Ministering is what He came to do. But multitudes can also be a real hindrance. For example, (1) They can exert undue pressure on you to do what they want you to do, making it difficult for you to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit; (2) they can demand so much of your time that you don't get your rest or eat properly, you don't spend adequate time with your family. As a result, both body and family suffer; and (3) in many instances, multitudes want healing, but they don't want teaching; they come to see a miracle, but they aren't interested in the message. Healing is good and fine, but you've got to remember that Jesus came to preach too! [197]

FNMatthew refers to Capernaum as being Jesus' own city. [198]

FNBecause there were no typewriters or printing machines in those days, everything—including the Scriptures—had to be written down and copied by hand. Not anyone, however, could copy the Scriptures for himself. This was forbidden in order to preserve and protect the text of Scripture from being miscopied or corrupted. The task of copying the Scriptures was given to a special group of men called scribes (grammateon, a writer). With the passage of time, the scribes not only copied Scripture, but they also devoted themselves to studying it, and finally, to teaching it. Among all the religious leaders in Judaism, the scribes were regarded as the foremost authorities on the Scriptures. They were alternately referred to as 'Doctors of the Law' (nomodidaskalos, which literally means 'Teachers of the Law', Luke 5:17), and also as 'Lawyers' (nomikos, an expert in the Law, Matthew 22:35 with Mark 12:28). They were also addressed as Rabbis (meaning master or teacher, Matthew 23:7). Scribes were not a separate religious party like the Pharisees or Sadducees. Rather, they were affiliated with either one of these parties, principally, with the Pharisees (compare Matthew 21:15 with 23:2). In Luke's account of this healing of the paralytic, there were both scribes and Pharisees in the house, listening to Jesus teach (Luke 5:17). [199]

FNAs staunch advocates and defenders of Judaism, the Pharisees and scribes not only worked against the Hellenization of the Jews, but they also sought to protect the people from false prophets and messiahs. The fact that Jesus was so popular, coupled with the fact that men proclaimed Him as prophet and Messiah, naturally aroused these religious leaders' scrutiny. In a way, then, these men were doing what they considered to be their job: they were checking to see if Jesus was really a true prophet and Messiah. [200]

FNSo what's the point? The point is, just like these scribes, YOU CAN HAVE THE WORD ON YOUR SIDE AND STILL BE DEAD WRONG! It's not the Word you have that's wrong. It's you yourself that's wrong. You're missing something. Like what? [201]

(A) Like the scribes, you might be missing the rest of what the Bible says. For example, you're right in training up your children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). There's nothing wrong with teaching them the do's and dont's of the faith, neither is it a sin to make rules of conduct and expect your children to abide by these rules. But have you forgotten what the rest of the Bible says about child training? Ephesians 6:4 says, fathers, provoke not your children to wrath. In all your diligence to bring your children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, make sure you're not provoking your children to wrath.

(B) You can have the Word, but go overboard with it by making so many rules out of one principle or commandment and expecting people to live by your rules. The Lord told His people to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy (Exodus 20:8). The Pharisees took that one commandment, came up with a thousand and one rules on what could, or could not, be done on a Sabbath, then forced these rules on everyone else. The Lord told His people not to be conformed to this world (Romans 12:2). Like the Pharisees, we can take this one commandment, come up with a thousand and one rules on what is worldly and what isn't, then force these rules on everyone else. Our rules. Jesus calls them the commandments and traditions of man (Matthew 15:1-9). I'm a stickler for non-conformity to this world, but legalism and the legislating of rules isn't God's way. God expects us to obey and live by His commandments, to honor our individual conscience and convictions concerning these commandments. But He hasn't called us to bind others with heavy burdens grievous to be borne (Matthew 23:4).

(C) You can have the Word, but have the wrong understanding, interpretation, or application of that Word. For example, Paul anathemized those who preached any other gospel than that which he preached to the Galatians (Galatians 1:8-9). So what do you do? You anathemize everyone who believes and preaches differently from you: "Let him be accursed!" Yet, that isn't what Galatians 1 is all about. The gospel that Paul has reference to isn't the entire sum of Christian doctrine, it isn't all the beliefs Christians adhere to. Rather, as the context of Galatians shows, the gospel refers to one doctrine, and that's the doctrine of salvation by faith as opposed to salvation by works. Paul isn't teaching you to anathemize everyone who doesn't believe everything you believe!

(D) You can have the Word, but have the wrong spirit about it. For example, you ought to be separate and holy and clean. God expects every Christian to live a righteous life (1 Peter 1:15,16). But are you self-righteous and proud about it? Do you look down on Christians who aren't as good as you? Do you do good works for vainglory and men's praise?

From these few of many examples I hope you see that it's possible to have the Word and yet be dead wrong about it. [201]

FNAs a general rule, the Jews—and especially the rabbis—believed that every sickness or disaster in a person's life was directly attributable to a sin or sins that he committed (Job 4:7, 22:5-10, Luke 13:2-4, John 9:2). While sickness can be a form of God's chastisement for sin (John 5:14, 1 Corinthians 11:30), it does not necessarily follow that every sickness is the result of sin (John 9:3). That this man's paralysis was caused by his sin is certainly possible, but by no means conclusive. I think we would be closer to the truth by conjecturing that this paralytic was quite concerned about his sins. (Note that even as a paralytic, he still committed sins!) As much as he wanted to be healed, he wasn't sure if Jesus would heal him because he hasn't been a good boy. Jesus' response to his concern, as it is given in the Greek text, was, forgiven are your sins! The man's guilt or conviction of sin was met by the Savior's loving forgiveness. FRIENDS, DON'T LIVE IN THE TORMENTING MEMORIES AND CONDEMNATIONS OF SIN. COME REPENTANTLY TO THE LORD AND KNOW THAT HE WILL FORGIVE: But there is forgiveness with thee, O Lord, that thou mayest be feared (Psalm 130:4). Sure, continuing or persisting in sin will keep you from getting healed. But if you're repentant and want to give up the sin, Jesus will heal you and forgive you too (James 5:15). Brethren, don't let your sin/s keep you from coming repentantly before the Lord and asking for His forgiveness as well as His healing. [202]

FNIt’s easier to say your sins are forgiven because there is no visible way of demonstrating that one's sins have truly been forgiven. It's always easier to say something when there isn't any visible, tangible way of proving it or knowing for sure. To say arise, take up your bed, and walk, however, is harder because the healing of paralysis is a visible thing, people can see it and know that a paralytic has truly been healed. You can say be healed all you want, but if the paralytic doesn't move, people will know he's not healed. From our human standpoint, healing is harder to prove because you've got to make it happen. People have got to see it with their eyes. In healing the paralytic, then, Jesus demonstrated that what's harder in men's eyes isn't hard for Him at all. Friends, it isn't hard for God to heal you! [203]

FNAccording to the chronology of Jesus' life that we have presented here in this study, this is the first time that the title the Son of man is used in the synoptic accounts. While Jesus was the Son of God, Prophet, Messiah, and King, the title which Jesus most often used with respect to Himself was the son of man. The title emphasizes the fact that Jesus was genuinely human, clothed in human flesh (Psalm 8:4). Two streams of thought are apparent throughout the Gospel accounts whenever the title is used. (1) First, as a Man, Jesus was to suffer, die, and rise again for the redemption of men (Matthew 17:9,12, 26:24). (2) And second, this Man whom we call Jesus is also a Heavenly, Divine, Messianic Being (Daniel 7:13, Matthew 26:64, John 1:51). He is King and Judge who sits on the throne (Matthew 16:27, 25:31). The Jews had a limited understanding of Messiah. Messiah was a nationalistic King. Jesus, however, was not just an Earthly King: He was also Savior, Judge, Heavenly King, and God Himself. For this reason, then, it is understandable why Jesus chose the Son of man, and not Messiah, in referring to Himself. [204]

FNIn Mark 2:10, the King James uses the word power, but the Greek exousia is more properly translated authority. Authority is a stronger word than power. It not only means the power or ability to do something, but also the right or permission to do it. The U.S. Army's Sixth Infantry has the power to fight with foreign armies, they have the ability and means wherewith to fight; but they lack the authority to do so. They can only fight when the Commander-in-Chief tells them to fight. Without the authority, they can’t do what they have the power to do. Now the right or authority to do something has to be given or delegated to you from a higher authority. The healing of the paralytic, then, was proof that God, the Highest Authority, had given a Man called Jesus the authority to forgive sins. The scribes, then, had to confront and settle the question: Does God give a man such an authority? Does authority rest solely and wholly with God, or can God give man some of His authority? From subsequent history of these religious leaders, their answer to the question was No! "Authority rests with God alone and no one has the power or right to do what only God can do." [205]

FNOne example, from a pastor's point of view, is doctrinal unity. God commands the church: I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing; and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment (1 Corinthians 1:10). As shepherd of the flock, a pastor is wholly within his right to ask, and expect, the flock to be agreed and united on a point of doctrine. His attitude and approach to people with conflicting opinions and beliefs are important in arriving at a unity of mind. But from the people's standpoint, people ought not criticize a pastor for asking what he has a right to ask. [206]

FNKing James palsy is what we know to be paralysis. It’s a condition that’s marked by the inability to move parts of the body due to injury to the spinal cord and/or to the motor areas of the brain. These motor areas affect the nerves and the movement of muscles. The fact that the paralytic in this instance was carried about and was consequently told by Jesus to arise and walk gives good indication that he was paralyzed at least in his legs. [207]

FNThe Greek ochlos is used many times in the Gospel accounts and is translated in the majority of instances as people or multitude. The word literally means 'a throng', hence, a large number, company, or multitude of people. There were so many people that the house could not hold them all. Many were gathered outside, around the house, trying to hear what Jesus had to say. [208]

FNHow did they get on the roof? Some Palestinian houses had an outside stairway that led to the roof. If this particular house did not have one, the houses in town were built close enough to each other so that a person can climb the stairway of one house and walk on rooftop from house to house. If this was the case with the paralytic and his friends, this act of faith involved some element of risk: the paralytic had to trust in his friends' ability to get from one rooftop to another without dropping him! The risk is compounded by the fact that a roof was surrounded by a balustrade or railing that had to be at least three feet high according to Jewish law! Now the roof of most Palestinian houses was made of mud or clay, mixed with chopped straw, that was then laid on the house's wooden beams and transverse rafters. Now of all the Gospel writers, Luke alone tells us that the roof was made of tiles (Luke 5:19). While the task of uncovering these tiles was a relatively easy and simple one, the commotion undoubtedly interfered with, or interrupted, the service going on down below. Understandably, the actions of these four friends of the paralytic might well have been considered rude, inconsiderate, and unmannerly by the people present. WHEN YOU ACT ON YOUR FAITH, BRETHREN, BE PREPARED FOR CRITICISM! But, don’t let people’s criticism stop you from acting and believing! In faith, get on the roof and forget what people might say. You see, people see things differently. What people may have considered rude, Jesus considered an act of faith. In the final analysis, it's what Jesus thinks—not what people think—that you should be concerned about. Brethren, act on your faith and take heart. Jesus won't stop you from getting through to Him! [209]

FNKJV bed (Greek krabbatos) consisted of a mattress. In their account of this same incident, Matthew and Luke use the word kline and klinidion, which was a portable couch or pallet that one could use to either lay down on or sit on. [210]

FNDid Jesus see this invisible substance that we call faith? I think not. To be sure, at the very least, He knew what was in the hearts of men (John 2:24,25, Mark 2:8). He knew the paralytic and his friends had faith. What Jesus saw, however, was the actions of these men: He saw the acts of faith that their faith produced. True faith acts, it produces corresponding actions (James 2:14-26). My friends, YOU'LL ALWAYS KNOW IF YOU'RE TRULY BELIEVING BY WHETHER OR NOT YOU'RE DOING SOMETHING ABOUT WHAT YOU'RE BELIEVING GOD FOR. If you're believing for God to heal you, then get to Jesus and ask! You can stay at home and lie on your cot all you want, but you don't get healed unless you make your way to Jesus and ask. [211]

FNMatthew and Mark use the word teknon, which means 'a child' (Matt. 9:2, Mark 2:5), while Luke uses anthropos, which means 'a man, an adult' (Luke 5:20). The paralytic was most certainly an adult, but Jesus addresses him in the affectionate, assuring manner of a little child, as if to say, "You're my child, everything will be alright". Friends, don’t forget who you belong to! Everything will be alright! [212]

FNEven though people may not be considerate of you, you nevertheless can't get bitter and hold a grudge against them. Brethren, don’t waste your time getting mad at people. There are other more important things to do with your time—like thinking of a way to get to Jesus. [213]

FNEndurance is the passive aspect of faith, while persistence is the active. Endurance is waiting for God to manifest the answer to your prayer, while persistence is refusing to take No for an answer; it's refusing to be denied (see Matthew 15:21-28, Luke 18:1-5). In the Scriptures just cited, as well as those cited in the immediately-following footnote, anyone can easily equate persistence with presumption: it's presumption to keep on asking or believing God for a particular thing if the apparent answer is No or if all outward circumstances point in the direction of denial. Such, however, is not the case. Persistence is not presumption: it's faith refusing to quit believing and acting until it has received the promises from God. Jesus commends and rewards persistence (Matthew 15:21-28, also verses cited above and following). Brethren, it's important to believe. But in all your believing, add persistence to your faith. Without it, you’ll quit believing. [214]

FNIn faith and persistence, you've got to find a way to beat the crowd, overcome the obstacles, and get to Jesus. How do you do that? Here are some ways the people in Jesus' day beat the crowd. (a) In the incident here, the paralytic and his four friends didn't bother with the crowd. They got around the crowd by finding a different way to get to Jesus—through the roof (Mark 2:1-12). Friends, you've got to be smarter than the crowd! (b) There are other smart things that you can do to get around the crowd. Zacchaeus unashamedly climbed a tree (Luke 19:1-10). (c) The Greeks got an audience with Jesus by talking with one of the disciples, who then presented their request to the Master (John 12:20-22). (d) The women with the issue of blood got right in with the crowd, pushed, and made her way to the front where Jesus was (Mark 5:25-34). (e) Blind Bartimaeus shouted and kept on shouting until Jesus and the people took notice of him (Mark 10:46-52). (f) Nicodemus waited till nighttime when the crowds went away before he came and talked to Jesus (John 3:1ff). The actions of people like these, my friends, should encourage you in the fact that though a lot of people may be hindering you from getting through to Jesus, there are nevertheless ways to get around them. [215]

FNWe have here a Biblical basis or precedent to believe the Lord for the healing of paralysis. Paralysis isn't something you have to live with for the rest of your life. Jesus healed many paralytics (Matthew 4:24). Brethren, DON'T GIVE UP FAITH! GOD IS STILL HEALING TODAY! [216]

FNWhat Matthew, Mark, and John refer to as the Sea of Galilee, Luke always refers to as the Lake of Gennesaret. They are both one and the same body of water. It should be noted that Gennesaret is not only the name of a lake, but also the name of a town and the name of a plain.

The plain was located on the western shore of the lake, between Capernaum and Magdala. After the calming of a storm at sea, Jesus and His disciples arrived at this site and it was here where Jesus performed many miracles (Matthew 14:34-36, Mark 6:53-56).

The town was situated in this plain, but it is not once mentioned in the Gospel accounts. During Old Testament times, Genessaret was known as Chinnereth or Chinneroth (Numbers 34:11, Deuteronomy 3:17, Joshua 11:2, 12:3). [217]

FNIn this incident by the Sea we see that Jesus did not confine Himself to teaching in the synagogue or the Temple. He taught the people wherever He happened to be: by the Sea (Mark 2:13), on a mountain (Matthew 5:1), in the desert (Mark 8:1,4), in a house (Mark 2:1-2). My friends, no matter where or when, place or time—when people are hungry, always be ready to feed them! [217a]

FNSome scholars are of the opinion that this call of the fishermen is the same as that recorded in Matthew 4:18-22 and Mark 1:16-20. A perusal of the texts, however, reveals differences that are rather difficult to reconcile: (a) according to Matthew and Mark, Jesus was walking along the shore when He called the fishermen; Luke states that Jesus was in the ship with Peter when He issued this call to discipleship; (b) Matthew and Mark state that the sons of Zebedee were called on shore while they were mending their nets; but according to Luke, they were called while they were at sea helping Peter with the draught of fishes; (c) in Matthew and Mark, this call was made prior to Jesus' first missionary tour of Galilee; while in Luke, it was made after that tour. The likeliest explanation for these differences, in my opinion, is that which I have already given in footnote 175. As a side note of interest, a futile night of fishing, the miraculous draught of fishes, and the subsequent call of Peter, are all repeated a second time after Peter denied the Lord (John 21). [218]

FNUnlike the other Gospel writers, Luke does not use the term Rabbi when referring to Jesus. [219]

FNIt is clear from these few verses that Peter and Jesus weren't the only men in the boat. When fishing by net from a boat—as opposed to fishing by net while standing close to shore—several men were required to handle the net. The nets were bigger and stronger, anticipating a greater catch than what a person would get standing close to shore. The fact that Zebedee had hired servants who helped him in his fishing business (Mark 1:19-20) lends credence to the likelihood that Peter also had servants with him. [220]

FNWith this final call, the fishermen stay with Jesus and follow Him everywhere He went for the duration of His public ministry. They forsook their family and job in order to follow Jesus. Brethren, following Jesus costs you something. Luke 14:25-27,33. Matt. 16:24-25, 10:35-39. Following Jesus requires you to make some sacrifices. To give up some things. To turn your backs on family and friends if they’re keeping you following Jesus. If following Jesus doesn’t cost you anything, you’re probably not following Jesus. If you can be whatever you want to be, do whatever you want to do, go wherever you want to go, live however you want to live, think/believe however you want to think/believe; if you live for yourself; if you can live life without thinking a whole lot about God, without talking much to Him, without obeying Him hardly at all, without making church a priority and going only when you feel like it and you’ve got nothing else going on; if God is far from you; then you’re not following Jesus the way Jesus wants you to follow Him. YOU’VE GOT TO MAKE SACRIFICES IN ORDER TO FOLLOW JESUS. [220a]

FNAn alternative view is that Jesus directed all these fishes to converge at this exact location, He "told" them where to go at this exact time. Friends, Jesus is Lord over all creation. He tells the animals what to do and they obey Him (see 1 Kings 17:4, Jonah 1:17, 2:10, compare Numbers 22:31-33, Matthew 17:27). This, I believe, is the kind of lordship and dominion over the animals that Adam forfeited when he sinned (Genesis 1:28). [221]

FNMany a Christian's unbelief and disobedience have been preceded by the words, I’ve tried that before, I’ve done that already, and it didn’t work! "Lord, I've fished all night and didn't catch a thing!" Brethren, the dismal trials and failures of the past are not to keep us from obeying the Lord today. The knowledge and wisdom that we’ve accumulated in a lifetime of learning and experiences are not to keep us from believing what sounds like nonsense or a bad idea. NO MATTER WHAT WE'VE BEEN THROUGH, NO MATTER WHAT WE KNOW, OUR RESPONSE TO JESUS' WORD MUST BE LIKE THAT OF PETER'S: NEVERTHELESS AT YOUR WORD, I WILL BELIEVE AND OBEY. And just as Peter netted an abundance of fish, so likewise miracles and blessings await those who believe and obey. Brethren, it pays to believe and obey the Lord! [222]

FNPeter first addresses Jesus as Master (verse 5), but after the miraculous draught, he addresses Him as Lord (verse 8). The first title was used respectfully of teachers or rabbis, but the second was used of power or deity. Interestingly enough, this is the first-recorded instance where Peter addresses our Lord in this manner. He knew Jesus was Rabbi and Messiah, but a sense of the Divine now overtakes him. [223]

FNLike Peter, a sense of our own sinfulness or unworthiness, as well as a fear of the Divine, keeps some of us from coming to Jesus. We don't want to be near, or around, Him! But, WHEN JESUS WANTS YOU, HE'S NOT LEAVING YOU! HE'S STAYING PUT UNTIL HE HAS YOU! Thank God He didn't abandon us! Our life is so much better with Jesus in it! Thank you, Lord, for not leaving us! [223a]

FNIt was common for rabbis to gather disciples around themselves. John the Baptist, as well as the Pharisees, had disciples (Luke 5:33). The phrase you shalt catch men is an interesting one. In the Greek text, zogreo literally means 'to take alive'. It's a word that's used when people are taken captive as prisoners of war. The fishes just caught in the nets were destined to die. They would soon be killed and eaten. However, in their new vocation, they would be taking men alive. Men destined to die because of sin would, by their evangelistic labors, be made alive and given a new life in Christ. [224]

FNThe fishermen's response is commendable and one worthy of emulation. They brought their boats to shore, left the fishes, and followed Jesus. What would become of their wives and children, if indeed they were married and had children? How would these men support their families? Can fishermen do anything else but fish? While questions such as these may have raced through their minds, the miraculous draught of fishes answered them all: the same Jesus who miraculously and abundantly supplied fishes for these men would also miraculously and abundantly supply for their families! Brethren, we're all called to serve the Lord no matter what vocation we may be in (Ephesians 4:1). As electricians or assemblymen, janitors or homemakers, the task of evangelism lies on us all (Matthew 28:18-20). But if, like these fishermen, the Lord is calling you to full-time service, then don't be afraid to leave your boats, nets and fishes behind. The Lord will supply and take care of the family. HE WHO CALLS, SUPPLIES. [225]

FNMatthew becomes the seventh man by name to be invited as a disciple of Christ. First came Andrew and John, then their brothers Simon Peter and James; soon afterwards came Philip and Nathanael, followed lastly by Matthew. [226]

FNJESUS DOESN’T CARE WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK ABOUT YOU. To some extent, I think we should care what other people think. But we shouldn’t let people govern what we think, say, or do. You cannot be captive to people and let people control you. JESUS IS THE ONLY PERSON WHO SHOULD CONTROL YOU. WHAT HE THINKS MATTERS MORE THAN WHAT PEOPLE THINK. WHAT PEOPLE KNOW AND THINK ABOUT YOU ISN’T AS IMPORTANT AS WHAT GOD KNOWS AND THINKS ABOUT YOU. God knows you better. He knows your heart. YOU’RE VALUABLE TO HIM. AND HE WANTS TO PUT YOU TO WORK. [226a]


If you have a bad reputation, you’re going to need to work to change, or get rid of, that reputation and acquire a good name and reputation for yourself. That takes time. People may not take too kindly to you right away. But if you stay with it, follow Jesus, and let Jesus teach you, clean you, and change you; some people will change their attitude and behavior towards you. YOU GET RID OF A BAD REPUTATION AND SOME PEOPLE WILL EVENTUALLY GET RID OF THEIR SUSPICIONS ABOUT YOU. [226a]

FNHere are a couple of interesting tidbits about Matthew. (1) Aside from this incident of his calling and the party that he threw for Jesus, Matthew is not ever mentioned again in the Gospel accounts. His name is listed in the roster of 12 apostles and he’s also mentioned in Acts 1 as being present in the upper room after Jesus ascended to Heaven. But aside from these mentions, we never read anything specific about him outside of his call and the party he gave for Jesus and his publican friends. And (2) nothing that Matthew ever said was recorded in Scripture. Matthew himself, when he wrote his Gospel account, never told us what he said or what he did on any given occasion. It would have been a good opportunity to promote himself. But Matthew didn’t call attention to himself. [226b]

FNPut yourself in the sandals of one of the Lord's followers. You don't take too kindly to publicans because they tax you to death. How would you feel about Jesus calling a publican to join your ranks? How incredibly difficult would it be for you to be nice to the guy and receive him? Reminds me of church: there's always people there who you're not really going to like or get along with; people who give your attitudes a real work out. Yet God puts both of you in the same place. He expects both of you to receive each other and get along. He expects both of you to stay together and not leave. The fact that the disciples stayed together as a team, even when they initially disliked or rejected a member of the team, proves to us that staying together on the same team can be done.

Turns out, no matter how much we may disagree and criticize our Lord for choosing certain people to follow and serve Him, GOD DOESN’T MAKE ANY MISTAKES IN WHO HE CHOOSES TO SAVE AND USE. God used Matthew to write a Gospel account of Jesus’ life and works. Not everyone could do that. Matthew is very well-versed in the Scriptures. If not now when Jesus calls him, then later while He’s following the Lord. Matthew learns the Scriptures very well, he sees all the Old Testament prophecies about Messiah, He sees Jesus as the fulfillment of these prophecies, and he writes to his fellow Jews to show them that Jesus is the Messiah. Notice that even though his countrymen hate him, Matthew doesn’t hate them back. He loves his people and he devotes himself to a ministry of showing them that Jesus is the Messiah. NO MATTER WHO DON’T LIKE YOU, LOVE THEM BACK AND DON’T LET THEIR HATRED OR ANIMOSITY STOP YOU FROM MINISTERING TO THEM. [226c]

FNThe verb in the Greek is katakeimai, which means 'to recline'. Unlike our western custom today, Jews did not sit upright on chairs around a table when they ate. Their table was set low to the ground and people reclined on mats. If you've ever laid on the floor and supported the upper half of your body on one elbow, this is a perfect illustration of how the Jews "sat" around the table. The posture, as well as the atmosphere, was very relaxed. [227]

FNInstead of talking to Jesus Himself, the Pharisees questioned His disciples. The strategy is still being used today. That is, instead of talking directly with the person they’re out to nail, critics will talk to this person’s close friends or followers and will attempt to discredit him or her in their eyes. The criticism, obviously, is meant to divide and alienate close friends, as well as deprive a leader of his following. [228]

FNJesus responded to the Pharisees' criticism—not only on this occasion, but others as well (Mark 2:6-12, 15-17, 23-28, 3:22-30, 7:1-13, Luke 7:36-40, 13:11-17, 15:1ff). While we frown on defending and justifying oneself, we can't be too quick in criticizing such action inasmuch as we see in these instances of Scripture where our Lord Himself responded to the questions, criticisms, and accusations of His critics. Brethren, THERE ARE TIMES WHEN THE CRITICISMS OF OTHERS CANNOT GO UNANSWERED! [229]

FNIt is interesting to note that Matthew is here shown to be doing something good for the Lord. And while he undoubtedly preached the Gospel to others, the Gospel accounts nevertheless do not once record a single word he ever said! He wrote the Gospel According to Matthew, but did so without quoting a single word he said! While statements can be attributed to most of the disciples, Matthew, James the Less, and Simon the Zealot are the only three disciples who were never quoted as saying anything. Wm. Hendriksen, The Gospel of Matthew (Michigan: Baker Book House, 1977), p. 422. [230]

FNThese non-pious Jews were rejected as sinners by the Pharisees, but the Gospel writer refers to them as followers of the Lord. Now this word followed used in verse 15 is the same word Jesus used when He called Matthew to discipleship and it's the same word used of Matthew when he rose up and followed the Lord (Mark 2:14). These publicans and sinners, I am saying, were part of the vast company of people that followed the Lord—and they were the same people whom the Pharisees dubbed as sinners. True followers of the Lord today are still regarded as non-pious Christians because they don't regard the teachings and traditions of men. [231]

FNTo understand the contempt of the Pharisees for sinners or non-practicing Jews, you must understand this one thing: for the Pharisee, the Law of God—both Written and Oral, Mosaic and Rabbinic, Torah and Mishnah—was Israel's prized possession. Out of all the nations on the Earth, God revealed and gave His Law to Israel alone. Disobedience to, and ignorance of, the Law were therefore seen in the severest of terms. They were not only a denial or rejection of God, but also a denial and rejection of one's identity and destiny as the chosen people of God. One cannot worship God without obedience to the Law. And obedience to the Law cannot be rendered where there is ignorance of the Law. Ignorance, then, was most culpable. Hence, we read in John 7:49 the Pharisees' assessment of all those ignorant of the Law, This people who knoweth not the law are cursed. Because publicans and sinners did not devote themselves to the knowledge or obedience of Law—especially Pharisaic or Rabbinic law—their ignorance became the object of Pharisaic contempt. [232]

FNYour view of defilement—of what makes you defiled—has a lot to do with the way you live. Your theology affects your practice. The Pharisees didn't fellowship or eat with sinners because that constituted defilement. A lot of this defilement consisted in the touch. Touching someone unclean (like publicans or sinners) or touching some things that belonged to someone unclean, automatically made you unclean. This was the Pharisaic understanding or theology concerning defilement. Do you know what? They were right to a certain extent! In truth, the Old Testament forbade God's people from touching certain things and to do otherwise would render one unclean (Leviticus 5:2-3, chapters 11 & 15). But the Pharisees took God's law to an extreme and made it apply to a lot of persons and things that God never mentioned. Clearly, from Jesus' point of view, the touch did not automatically render a person unclean (see Luke 7:36-50). [233]

FNRight practice needs right theology. My friends, TO MINISTER TO SINNERS WE NEED TO HAVE A RIGHT THEOLOGY ABOUT FELLOWSHIPPING WITH THEM. Make no mistake, bad company corrupts good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33, NASB)). God commands us to be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers, but to come out from among them and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

But the principle of separation does not preclude our God-given responsibility to minister (Matthew 28:18-20). As the incident here with our Lord shows, ministry involves some kind of friendship and fellowship. Ministry isn't confined to preaching from a pulpit: it also involves talking about the things of the Lord with people while they're working (John 4:5ff), or while you're eating with them (Luke 5:29-32). I’m not talking about fellowshipping with deceivers! The Bible has another story to tell concerning them (Romans 16:17, 2 Timothy 3:1-5). I'm talking about fellowshipping with sinners.

Brethren, WE CANNOT FULFILL OUR EVANGELISTIC COMMISSION TO THE WORLD IF WE ARE LIKE THE PHARISEES: SEPARATISTS, SELF-RIGHTEOUS, CRITICAL, AND COMPASSIONLESS, OR UNMERCIFUL. WE CAN'T REACH OUT TO OTHERS IF WE ISOLATE OURSELVES FROM EVERYONE WHO ISN'T AS DEVOUT AS WE ARE. I'm all for holiness and being separate from sin and the world. But Jesus didn’t isolate us from sinners. He didn't pray that God would take us out of this world (John 17:15). Instead, He sent us into this world and prayed that God would preserve us from evil while we are in the world (John 17:15,18). In other words, there’s a way to rub elbows with sinners and still not be contaminated or adversely affected by them. If we fellowship with them for the purpose of saving them, that vision, labor, and determination will, I believe, keep us from being defiled or corrupted by them.

Jesus fellowshipped with sinners to save them, not to sin with them. So many times, weak, carnal Christians will hang out with unsaved friends and party with them and end up fornicating and getting stoned, high, drunk, etc. So instead of the Christian saving the sinner, it’s the sinner who’s leading the Christian to sin.


FNThe Pharisees didn't eat or fellowship with sinners because they didn't want to be defiled. Brethren, what keeps you from eating or fellowshipping with sinners? You don't want to risk contamination. You don't want to be identified with sinners. You don't want to give others the impression you're compromising or watering-down the Word. You're concentrating on preparing yourself for the rapture or the Lord's return. They're so hardened in sin, you don't believe they want to get saved. Many are the reasons indeed. But the bottom line comes back to this thing that our Lord calls compassion. Do we really care about the lost and their pending destiny in Hell? O friends, let's get rid of the Pharisees within us!

As a note of related interest, I commend the disciples for coming with Jesus to this feast. If these disciples were like any of us today, some of them might have had strong feelings about not fellowshipping with sinners. They might have argued with Jesus or not showed up at the feast. But they came! Brethren, IF YOU'RE GOING TO FOLLOW JESUS, QUIT TELLING JESUS WHAT TO DO OR NOT DO! Follow Jesus' lead and pray for a heart of compassion for the lost. Remember, He’s teaching you by example how to be a fisher of men. [235]

FNReference is here made to a time when He would no longer be with His disciples: But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them (Luke 5:35). When Jesus is taken away, that's the time to fast. In other words, there's a time to fast. Now is not that time. [236]

FNThere were no bottles in those days, so people used skins of goats or sheep as a kind of bottle in which to store or ferment wine. The skin was removed from the animal, tanned, shaved, and then turned inside out. The neck of the skin served as the opening or top of the "bottle;" the skin around the legs and tail was tied shut with cords. [237]

FNNew because it was a new, or different, way of looking at people and ministering to them. Instead of shunning and cursing them, you love them and minister to them. [237a]

FNIn this context, the unnamed feast would most likely have been Purim between the Passovers of John 2:13 and 6:4. This feast commemorated the Jews’ deliverance from Haman’s wicked plot to destroy them (Book of Esther). Purim was celebrated in the local synagogue. It was not a pilgrim feast. Hence, Jesus was not required to go to Jerusalem to observe this feast. His presence there was strictly voluntary. It is interesting to note that if this unnamed feast was really Purim (a feast of deliverance), the healing of the infirmed man at the Pool of Bethesda was this man’s deliverance from the spirits of infirmity that bound him for so many years. [238]

FNDuring Pontius Pilate’s reign as Procurator of Judea (A.D. 26-36), Passover fell on a Friday only two times—in A.D. 30 and A.D. 33. In harmonizing the events of contemporary history and those recorded in the Gospel accounts, the year A.D. 30 best reflects the final year of Jesus’ Earthly ministry. [239]

FNBethesda means house of mercy. The Pool is also referred to as Bethzatha (house of the olive) and the Sheep Pool, probably because it was situated near the Sheep Gate through which sheep were brought for use in Temple sacrifices (Nehemiah 3:32, 12:39). This is the only place in Scripture where the Pool of Bethesda is mentioned. The identity of the Pool was firmly established in 1888 while repairs were being made on the Church of St. Anne close by. A fresco on the wall depicts an angel troubling the water. Two pools were actually excavated (the other being the Pool of Israel), one having five arches with five corresponding porches, hence, matching the description of the Gospel writer in John 5:2. [240]

FNDiseased or invalids. [241]

FNCrippled or lame. [242]

FNDried or shriveled up, possibly a reference to some sort of paralysis. See Mark 3:3 and Luke 6:6. [243]

FNSome of the best manuscripts, at least as they are regarded by many scholars today, delete the latter portion of verse 3 and verse 4 altogether. These sentences are purported to be a scribal or marginal gloss. That is, a scribe added them to explain the troubling of the water and the healing power therein. Some scholars like to skip over this part of Scripture because they feel the troubling of the water was only a Jewish superstition and had no real basis in fact or reality. Edersheim, who wrote a monumental work of the life of Christ, does not regard this troubling of the waters as being caused by angelic activity, but rather, explains it on the basis of an underground spring that fed into the pool or reservoir. The Textus Receptus, from which the King James Version is translated, contains these omissions. Personally speaking, the presence of verses 3 and 4 in the Scripture text must be regarded as a part of Divinely-inspired Scripture. [244]

FNAs I already said in the preceding footnote, there are some scholars and commentators who would just as soon skip over verses 3 and 4 because they regard it as a matter of Jewish superstition. After all, anyone who’s hopelessly infirmed or desperate is likely to believe anything just to get healed. Besides that, this phenomenon is nowhere else found in Scripture!

The trouble with explaining these verses away is, how do you explain the fact that so many diseased people practically lived by this Pool? What were they doing there if they didn’t have a chance of being healed? If no one was ever healed, the superstition would have long since been dispelled by the facts of reality. The Pool, I am saying, would not have attracted the hopelessly, yet hopeful, infirmed if it failed to heal those who stepped into the troubled waters first. [245]

FNJesus could have asked, as He did on another occasion (Matthew 9:28), “Do you believe I am able to heal you?” Instead of drawing attention to the man’s faith, He drew it to the man’s desire. Healing is not only a matter of faith, but also of desire. Some who are afflicted, especially those whose condition is terminal or incurable, don’t want to be healed. Why? Because some don’t want to believe for healing. Others want the glory that comes from being stoic in the face of great affliction. And many want the pity, attention, and charity that come from being helpless or sick. [246]

FNThis bed was a portable cot or mattress. A sleeping bag would be a good modern-day equivalent to help you understand what a bed in New Testament times was like. [247]

FNI’d like for you to notice what Jesus did to heal this man. All He did was speak a word and that word went forth, touched that man’s legs, and made him whole. My friends, it’s a mistake to think that God needs man’s medicines and surgeries to heal: He uses His Word. He said in Psalm 107:20 He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions. God’s Word, my friends, is what heals and delivers; it’s how God heals and delivers. God works through His Word. Isaiah 55:11 (CEV) reads, That's how it is with my words. They don't return to me without doing everything I send them to do. We don’t understand how that works. How does God’s Word restore life to lifeless, paralyzed limbs? Or remove cancerous cells? Or make blinded eyes see? Or make life-threatening diseases go away? THE FACT THAT WE DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW GOD’S WORD WORKS DOESN’T PREVENT GOD’S WORD FROM WORKING! Just because we don’t know how doesn’t stop it from working! God’s Word goes forth and heals even when we don’t understand how that works. Brethren, don’t labor to understand: labor to believe! [248]

FNNote here that when Jesus wants to find you, when He has something He wants to say to you; He will look for you and find you and tell you what you need to know. [248a]

FNJesus’ statement here leaves us with the impression that this man’s disability was a result of a sin he committed thirty-eight years earlier: “If you sin again, or do the same thing again, you’ll get even sicker than this.” It’s interesting to see here the relationship between health and righteousness, sickness and sin. The blessing of being healed by our Lord carries with it the responsibility to live in righteous obedience unto the Lord. God doesn’t heal us so that we can go back and do bad things or live a sinful, unholy kind of life. IF YOU DON’T WANT TO LIVE THE UPRIGHT LIFE, IF YOU DON’T WANT TO WALK THE STRAIGHT AND NARROW; THEN DON’T ASK GOD TO HEAL YOU BECAUSE HE’S GOING TO WANT YOU TO WALK THE STRAIGHT AND NARROW WHEN HE HEALS YOU; AND WHEN YOU DON’T, SOMETHING WORSE WILL VERY LIKELY HAPPEN TO YOU; you'll end up being sicker and worse off than before.

As a side note, it should be remembered that not all sickness is a sign or indication of sin. Sickness can be a chastisement (Psalm 38:1-10,17-18, Psalm 89:31-32, 1 Corinthians 11:29-30, Exodus 15:26), but it can also be a trial of faith or a matter of Satanic oppression. See our following commentary on John 9:1ff. [249]

FNThe Mishnah is filled with over 130 Sabbath regulations of the Rabbis. These regulations are very specific. For example, there were 39 main classes of work that couldn’t be done on the sabbath, the last one being, taking out aught from one domain into another (Shabbath 7.2). Shabbath 10.3 goes on to read, If a man took out aught in his right hand or in his left hand, in his bosom or on his shoulder, he is culpable; for this last was the manner of carrying of the sons of Kohath. If [he took it out] on the back of his hand, or with his foot or with his mouth or with his elbow, or in his ear or in this hair or in his wallet [carried] mouth downwards, or between his wallet and his shirt, or in the hem of his shirt, or in his shoe or in his sandal, he is not culpable since he has not taken it out after the fashion of them that take out [a burden]. By law, then, a person couldn’t carry his bed around on the Sabbath. [250]

FNJesus was in a synagogue one Sabbath and healed a woman who was infirmed for eighteen years. Upon seeing this flagrant violation of Sabbath law, the synagogue’s ruler answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day (Luke 13:14). [251]

FNHonoring the Sabbath was one of the three duties that made for a pious Jew, the other two being fasting and alms-giving. [252]

FNWhen Jesus healed the impotent man on the Sabbath, He knew what He was doing and what He was getting Himself into. He knew that there’ll be trouble from the religious leaders over it. Note, however, that Jesus didn’t let the inevitability of criticism, trouble, or persecution stop Him from doing the Father’s will. Like Jesus, some of the things you do in obedience to God will be controversial and troubling to people. They won’t like it. When you do God’s will there’ll be times when you’ll get into trouble for it with some people. Sometimes, knowing that trouble will lie ahead for you can tempt you into not doing what God wants you to do. Brethren, YOU CAN’T LET PEOPLE AND THE TROUBLE YOU’LL GET FROM THEM STOP YOU FROM DOING WHAT’S RIGHT. Next time you obey God and get into trouble for it, remember what we say here. You’ll get into trouble with men when you obey God and do the things they don’t want you to do. [253]

FNBecause of Jesus’ Sabbath violations, the Pharisees concluded that This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day (John 9:16a). [254]

FNDo not miss what Jesus is telling us here. God heals! Brethren, it’s not God’s will for us to be sick. He is a God who heals. It is His work to heal! [255]

FNThis, however, was not how the religious leaders saw it. You see, from rabbinic perspective, the fourth commandment meant no work was to be done on the Sabbath. That commandment, in part, reads, But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work (Exodus 20:10a). No work means no work. On this point the rabbis were right! But the fundamental task and issue is an understanding of what God meant by the word work. The rabbis understood work to mean a lot of things. In fact, their Mishnah contains over one hundred thirty regulations as to what could, and could not, be done on the Sabbath. In other words, they were adding to the Scriptures and saying a lot of things that the Lord Himself didn’t say when He gave Moses the Law. For example, He didn’t say you couldn’t carry a bed on the Sabbath!

What, then, did God mean by not doing any work on the Sabbath? For six days God created everything that was created. On the seventh day, He rested from His creative work. He quit creating. In the same way, man has six days to do his job, go to work, and fulfill His daily responsibilities. But when the seventh day comes around, it’s time to take a rest from daily duties or responsibilities. Just as God’s rest doesn’t mean the complete cessation from all activity (imagine what would happen to us and this world if God didn’t do anything at all on the Sabbath: Satan would do his work of deceiving, stealing, and killing—and God wouldn’t be able to stop him because He doesn’t do anything on the Sabbath!), so man’s rest doesn’t mean he can’t do anything at all on the Sabbath. [256]

FNPut yourself in the sandals of these religious leaders. Here’s a man. He claims to be God. This is blasphemous! Yes, it is! But not if you know who Jesus is. Not if you know the circumstances of His Holy Ghost conception! The religious cops didn’t know that He was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Matthew 1:20. It’s so easy to rush to judgment and have your mind made up before you have all the facts. Friends, you can avoid making false accusations, or being wrong on an issue or situation, if you only take the time to know all the facts. OUR IGNORANCE MAKES US WRONG! Incidents like this in the Gospel accounts remind me that when I’m rushing to judgment, when I’m eager to judge, pass sentence, and condemn; then that’s the time to slow down, get off the bench, and search out the facts. [256a]

FNThis is what God Himself thinks of the world’s religions and cults. Whoever doesn’t honor or worship Jesus doesn’t honor or worship God. My friends, WHEN YOU TAKE JESUS OUT OF RELIGION OR ELSE RELEGATE HIM TO A PLACE OF MERE HUMANITY (NO MATTER HOW NOBLE OR PERFECT YOU THINK HE WAS), YOU DISQUALIFY YOURSELF FROM THE KINGDOM OF GOD. No one goes to Heaven who does not recognize the Deity of Jesus and who does not believe, worship, and obey Him. [257]

FNLike the Jewish religious leaders, you’ve got to settle the question of Jesus’ identity before you can accept the truth of His Word or accept the validity of His works. You see, the Jews had a hard time believing what Jesus said because they didn’t believe He was really the Son of God. They didn’t believe He was doing God’s works because they didn’t even believe He was a man of God. What I’m saying, brethren, is this. YOUR ACCEPTANCE OF, BELIEF IN, AND OBEDIENCE TO, JESUS’ WORD ARE ALL GROUNDED IN YOUR RECOGNITION OF WHO JESUS IS. Take holiness for an example. You won’t believe Jesus really means business when He says to be separate from this world (2 Corinthians 6:17, Romans 12:2) and be unlike it—you’ll believe this is a wrong interpretation of Scripture, legalism, or a works salvation—unless you first of all see that Jesus really is holy and He intends for us to be holy just as He Himself is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). You can use faith as another example. You won’t take faith seriously as long as you don’t understand that Jesus walked and ministered on this Earth by faith and He intends for us to do the same. Do you see what I mean? Your belief in Jesus is rooted in your recognition of who Jesus is. [258]

FNI’d like for you to notice that Jesus was already in trouble for healing the disabled man on the Sabbath. So what does He do when the Jews challenge Him for doing that? He gives them a revelation of Himself that gets Him into more trouble! The more He says, the more trouble He gets into! What’s more, He says things that get these leaders madder and madder. Pretty provocative and confrontational. Certainly, not peaceable. So what’s the point? Brethren, YOU CAN’T LET PEOPLE’S REACTION TO THE TRUTH STOP YOU FROM SPEAKING THE TRUTH. YOU CAN’T LET THE THOUGHT OF BEING PROVOCATIVE OR CONFRONTATIONAL STOP YOU FROM SAYING THINGS THAT PEOPLE NEED TO HEAR. Sometimes truth hurts, offends, divides, and makes people mad. If you don’t believe that, take a public, vocal stance against abortion and see what happens. While we are commanded to be peaceable (Romans 12:18), the command is not a license to keep silent, compromise, or hide the truth from those who most need to hear it (2 Timothy 4:1-2). WHEN IT COMES TO TRUTH, THE FACT THAT PEOPLE DON’T LIKE TO HEAR IT, OR DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT, DOESN’T AUTOMATICALLY MEAN YOU SHOULDN’T SAY IT. [259]

FNLiterally, sown fields. Reference here is to a field of grain, not corn. Corn wasn’t grown in Palestine. In the Jordan Valley and regions west of the Sea of Galilee, barley was harvested in April, wheat in May. Since the grain in this incident was mature enough to eat, we therefore assume that this Sabbath controversy with the Pharisees occurred sometime in spring, prior to harvest or Pentecost in May. [260]

FNShabbath 7.2 reads, The main classes of work are forty save one: sowing, ploughing, reaping, binding sheaves, threshing, winnowing, cleansing crops, grinding, sifting, kneading, baking, shearing wool, washing or beating or dyeing it, spinning, weaving, making two loops, weaving two threads, separating two threads, tying [a knot], loosening [a knot], sewing two stitches, tearing in order to sew two stitches, hunting a gazelle, slaughtering or flaying or salting it or curing its skin, scraping it or cutting it up, writing two letters, erasing in order to write two letters, building, pulling down, putting out a fire, lighting a fire, striking a hammer and taking out aught from one domain into another. These are the main classes of work: forty save one. [261]

FNHere we find the principle that a leader is responsible and held accountable for the conduct of those under his authority. Just as Jesus bore the blame for what His disciples did, so our pastors bear the blame whenever someone in the church does something bad or something wrong. When we misbehave, people point a finger at him. Brethren, our misconduct adversely affects our pastor. [262]

FNThe word means to desecrate or dishonor; violate. By working on the Sabbath the priests were dishonoring the Sabbath. [263]

FNSome people and commentators take this incident in David’s life to teach that every rule has it exception, that there are extenuating circumstances that justify what would normally or otherwise be a violation of the law. In other words, it’s alright and permissible to do something wrong if that’s the only recourse available to you. Situational ethics. It’s wrong or right depending on the circumstances involved. When you’re in need or trouble, God understands and doesn’t hold it against you as sin. My friends, what David did was wrong. He violated the clear ordinance of Leviticus 24:9. He lied to the High Priest: he wasn't on a mission for King Saul, 1 Samuel 21:2. If you read the rest of the story in 1 Samuel 22, David’s visit to Nob ended in great tragedy for the priests and entire village. Make no mistake, brethren, God is merciful and He knows what we feel or go through. He was once a man too! But brethren, DON’T USE GOD’S MERCIFULNESS AS AN EXCUSE OR LICENSE TO DISOBEY HIM. DISOBEDIENCE IS DISOBEDIENCE AND NO AMOUNT OF EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES CAN CHANGE OR JUSTIFY THAT (see 1 Samuel 13:8-13, 15:24-26). But where God’s mercy comes in is here. In His mercy, God forgives us and gives us life with a second chance. He doesn’t smite us on the spot! Thank you, Lord! [264]

FNMercy doesn’t mean denying the wrong and telling the wrong doer he’s alright, he hasn’t done anything wrong. No, that’s a lie. That’s a deception. And when you tell the wrong doer that he hasn’t done anything wrong, you’re deceiving him and encouraging him to continue doing wrong. [264a]

Mercy is being loving and compassionate with those who’ve missed it or sinned. It’s giving wrong doers a chance to get things right with God. A chance to repent and save their lives or souls. That involves us being patient and forbearing with them; it leads us to pray for them, not put them down or damn them. Mercy is being concerned for people’s souls and where they’ll spend eternity. It's giving them a chance to come to God, not drive them away from Him. Hosea 6:6 God says, For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. Matthew 5:7, Blessed are the merciful. Matthew 7:1, Judge not, that ye be not judged.

GOD WANTS YOUR SACRIFICE AND WORSHIP. HE WANTS YOUR OBEDIENCE. BUT MORE THAN THAT, HE WANTS YOU TO BE MERCIFUL TOWARDS OTHERS! Why is that? Because He’s merciful. He’s just. And He can damn people on the spot after they make the first mistake. But He doesn’t do that because He’s merciful. 2 Peter 3:9 (NIV) reads, The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. God wants to save people. He wants to help them escape the fires of hell. He made them. He loves them. He cares about them. Just the way you love and care for your children. God wants to give them a life that’s truly worth the living. Justice damns. But mercy holds out the hope of forgiveness and life. [264a]

FNGOD IS VERY CONCERNED ABOUT HOW WE TREAT OTHERS. It’s so easy to criticize, judge, and condemn. But are we interested in their soul and welfare? Are we interested in saving and helping them? Do we want to see them get right with the Lord? We can tell ourselves and everyone else that we're Christian. We're loving. We want people to be saved. But our words ring shallow and hallow--in fact, we lie--when our words are contradicted by our actions, attitudes, and thoughts. In spite of what we say, if all we want to do is condemn people who’re wrong, then we’re condemning. If all we want to do is judge people, then we’re judgmental. If all we want to do is criticize people, then we’re critical. God help us. Will He have mercy on an unmerciful bunch? Need I answer the question for you? I'll let Jesus do the answering: Matthew 5:7, 7:1-2, James 2:13. [264b]

FNLike the Pharisees who paid no attention to mercy, here are some things that many of God’s people today would just as soon forget about and cut out of the Bible (I’ve also cited the common excuse people give for ignoring these God-commanded duties): holiness (“that’s legalism”), love (“that’s another word for compromise”), unity (“sounds like ecumenicalism to me”), mercy (“I don’t want to give the impression I’m condoning or minimizing sin), and more. [265]

FNThe Mishnah is filled with such stretched-out interpretations of the word ‘work’. Here are some examples of things you couldn’t do on the Sabbath: an egg may not be buried in hot sand because that would be the same as cooking it (Shab. 3.3); you can’t pass a tube of cold water through a spring of hot water because that would be the same as heating it (Shab. 3.4); you can’t bite your nails or pull out a hair on your head, moustache, or beard (Shab. 10.6); goods from one ship could be moved to another ship if both ships were tied together. If the ships weren’t tied together, then no matter how close together they were docked, goods may not be transferred between them (Shab. 11.5); you can’t write two letters (as in the alphabet) in ink, but you can do so if you write them in fruit-juice, dirt, or sand (Shab. 12.3,5); you cannot squeeze juice out of a fruit (Shab. 22.1); and many more. In examples such as these, we see that men’s understanding of “work” wasn’t the same as God’s understanding. God just didn’t see things the same way the rabbis did! Brethren, don’t think that the same can’t be true of us today. IT MAY WELL BE—MUCH TO OUR UNAWARES LIKE THE PHARISEES—THAT GOD AND US DON’T SEE EYE TO EYE ON SOME THINGS. [266]

FNThis incident is not to be confused with a similar one in Luke 14:1-6. [267]

FNThe term literally means dried up, shriveled. The sense in the Greek is that this condition was the result of an injury to the muscles, resulting in atrophy and the loss of use of the hand. Luke alone tells us that it was the right hand that was injured. [268]

FNNotice that when Jesus told the guy to stretch forth his hand the guy’s hand was still crippled. In the natural, the guy couldn’t move it. In times past, even when he tried to move it, when he mentally commanded this arm to move, it wouldn’t move. So the guy has done this many times over, but it’s never worked. But now that Jesus tells him to move it, he wills, and tries, to move it…and it works! He can move his arm again! And not only that, this arm was restored and fixed and made whole…in an instant…through the spoken word of faith and obedience of faith.

It's here we learn that getting healed at times will happen when you act on your faith and do what cannot be done in the natural. So many people want God to heal them, make their arm whole again, before they try and move it. Jesus didn’t heal the man’s arm first. It was healed while, ow when, the man obeyed the Lord and moved his arm. People want the feeling and healing first before they act on their faith and do what they can’t do. The principle? Sometimes, your healing won’t come until you first act on your faith and do what you can’t do. As you act on your faith, the healing will come. This principle of healing is seen in the cleansing of the lepers in Luke 17:14 and and the man who was born blind in John 9:7. [268a]

FNMark presents us a picture of Christ that we see rarely in the Gospel accounts. When the Pharisees refused to answer His question, Jesus was very, very grieved because of their hard hearts and He became angry. There’s no use downplaying the word ‘angry’ because that’s exactly the word that’s used in the Greek text: Jesus became angry. Being sinless in all respects, Jesus was angry without sinning. He became angry without being sinful. Which is to say—as far as Christ is concerned, and possibly the righteous—IT’S POSSIBLE TO BE ANGRY WITHOUT BEING SINFUL ABOUT IT. See Ephesians 4:26. Apparently, much to our unawares, there is an anger that is righteous. And, much to our awares, there is an anger that is sinful. Because the anger that we’re so familiar with is preponderantly a sinful emotion that leads to abusive words and violent, sinful conduct; the Bible commands us to put away all wrath and anger (Ephesians 4:31). In the end, IT’S BETTER TO NOT BE ANGRY THAN TO BE ANGRY AND SIN AS A RESULT OF IT. See AN2 for additional notes on anger. [269]

FNOf all the Gospel writers, Mark alone tells us that the Pharisees took counsel with the Herodians as to how they could get rid of Jesus. This was the first of two times that the Pharisees joined in with the Herodians against Jesus, the other being the incident with tax money and paying tribute to Caesar (Mark 12:13). Who are the Herodians? They were followers or supporters of Herod the Great and his Herodian dynasty. In this sense, then, they were not a religious party, but rather, a political party. They opposed Roman rule. But, unlike many of their countrymen, they felt that Jewish independence or sovereignty was a pipe dream as long as Rome was the dominant world power. It simply wasn’t going to happen. So, in the meantime, they adopted the middle ground and felt that being ruled by the Herods was about as close as they could get to a Jewish national kingdom. Since this incident took place in Galilee, these Herodians would have been supporters of Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea. [270]

FNThe Pharisees have been totally, publicly humiliated. They are hopping mad that they go out and convene a meeting as to how they were going to kill Jesus.Brethren, when you’re angry you don’t think straight. You can’t reason or see clearly. The word madness in Luke 6:11 means they lacked understanding, they had no sense, their reason went out the window. Anger is temporary insanity.

Anger is not only insanity: it's also murderous. It makes you violent or abusive. You know from your own experience what happens when you lose your temper. The news is filled with people who killed in a moment of anger. Don’t act hastily or do anything when you’re mad. Someone’s liable to get killed or hurt! [270a]

FNThey also didn’t like Him because they felt He was guilty of blasphemy (Luke 5:21) and because He ate with a forbidden group of people, namely, publicans and sinners (Luke 5:30). In fact, He enlisted a publican to be one of His followers (Luke 5:27)! Now it is almost certain that these Pharisees were warned about Jesus from their counterparts in Jerusalem. What did they hear about Jesus? He drove out the merchants and animals from the Temple precinct (John 2:13ff), He healed an impotent man on the Sabbath (John 5:1-16), He claimed to be the Son of God and therefore equal with God (John 5:17-36), and He was gutsy enough to accuse them of not believing Moses or the Scriptures (John 5:37-47). In the eyes of the religious leaders—whether in Galilee or Jerusalem—Jesus had a bad reputation and they quickly developed an aversion to Him. In our day you might say He was public enemy number one. [271]

FNThe Pharisees’ problem with Jesus and His Sabbath violations invariably go back to the real root of the problem, and that was, they refused to honor Him as the Son of God and Lord of the Sabbath (John 5:19, Matthew 12:8). They had problems with what He did because they had problems with who He was. If they accepted Him for who He really was there would have been no problems with the Sabbath so-called works: the Son of God could do anything He wanted to do on the Sabbath and He wouldn’t be wrong for doing it. But as it was, they didn’t see Jesus as anything more than a man. The fact that He broke their Sabbath laws only proved to them that He couldn’t be anything more than a common man and sinner at that (that is, He couldn’t be a prophet or Messiah, John 9:16).

With this fact in mind, notice with me that there was discord in the synagogue between Jesus and the Pharisees. There was disagreement or a difference of opinion concerning what could, and could not be, done on the Sabbath. So how does this apply to the church today? My friends, discord in the local church isn’t new to our day. It shouldn’t be in the church (1 Corinthians 1:10). But, like the Pharisees, WHENEVER YOU’VE GOT PEOPLE IN THE CHURCH WHO AREN’T WILLING TO LET JESUS BE WHO HE REALLY IS, THERE’LL ALWAYS BE DISCORD IN THE CHURCH. WHENEVER CHURCHMEN FIND FAULT WITH JESUS’ WORKS (OR LACK THEREOF), THE CHURCH BECOMES A COMBAT ZONE. Brethren, we’ll all dwell in unity a lot faster when we all let Jesus be Jesus and let Him do what He does, without criticizing Him for it. [272]

FNIn seeking to discredit Jesus, the Pharisees used His actions on the Sabbath (that is, picking grain and healing) against Him. My friends, WHEN YOU DO THINGS THAT ARE ENTIRELY SCRIPTURAL AND LAWFUL TO DO, DON’T BE SURPRISED WHEN YOUR CRITICS USE THESE THINGS AGAINST YOU TO TRY AND MAKE YOU LOOK BAD. Don’t be flustered or bewildered by these false accusations. Remember, the law that Jesus broke was not the law of God or of Moses, but rather, the law of the rabbis. Ask your accusers what law you’ve broken. Chances are, the law you’ve broken is not God’s law, but their own personal law. Rejoice, you’re in good company! [273]

FNAll together, there were at least five trick questions that the religious leaders asked Jesus: (1) this one regarding healing on the Sabbath, Matt. 12:10; (2) the question concerning divorce, Mark 10:2; (3) paying tribute to Caesar, Matthew 22:16-17; (4) resurrection and the wife of seven brothers, Matthew 22:23-28; and (5) the course of action to be taken against the woman caught in adultery, John 8:3-6. [274]

FNIsaiah 58:6-14 (NLT) defines God’s desired fast as a fast of doing good to others and it defines it in the context of the Sabbath: "No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. (7) Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. (8) "Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind. (9) Then when you call, the LORD will answer. 'Yes, I am here,' He will quickly reply. "Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! (10) Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. (11) The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. (12) Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes. (13) "Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don't pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the LORD's holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don't follow your own desires or talk idly. (14) Then the LORD will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the LORD, have spoken!" [275]

FNIn keeping with a central purpose of his Gospel account, Matthew cites Jesus’ fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, that found in Isaiah 42:1-4. The prophecy speaks about the special relationship that exists between Messiah and the Father. [276]

Rather than speak on this, however, I’d like to focus in on two things about Christ. {1} First, Christ’s ministry will extend beyond the Jews and reach the Gentiles too. In other words, Gentiles will partake of the blessings and the kingdom that too many Jews believed were reserved only for themselves. As proof of Christ’s ministry to the Gentiles, Mark cites many people who sought our Lord from the land of Idumea, Perea, Decapolis, Tyre, and Sidon which were predominantly Gentile territories. Jesus, dear friends, is for all men! And that includes you of all people! Hallelujah! Jesus is interested in you!

And {2} the prophet gives us a penetrating look at the tender heart of Messiah. He’s not proud, boisterous, or cantankerous. Rather, He is soft spoken, very gentle, and mild mannered. He will not break a bruised reed, nor will be snuff out a smoking flax. Different scholars understand these words differently. What I see here is Christ’s gentle treatment of the weak and hurting. He is not critical or harsh towards them. But, to the contrary, He ministers gently to them and restores life and strength to them. Brethren, CHRIST CARES JUST AS MUCH FOR THE WEAK AMONG US AS THE STRONG. In fact, more so because they stand in greater need of Him. Christ’s time and ministry are not spent primarily with the strong, but rather, with the weak: They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Mark 2:17). Brethren, it’s so easy to criticize, despise, and reject the weak among us. How easily we deplore the immature, carnal, and ignorant among us. And how much we need to be patient, gentle, and condescending like our Lord! [276]

FNJust as Simeon first proclaimed the promised Messiah as being the salvation of the Gentiles too (Luke 2:31,32), so even now at this early stage of Jesus’ ministry the Jews were being prepared for the coming day when even the Gentiles would come to salvation in Christ. Such salvation, as Matthew shows, is not a new doctrine, but rather, one that was prophesied hundreds of years earlier by the prophet Isaiah. [277]

FNPerhaps rightly, we're quite concerned about our reputation. We fear, shun, and avoid, bad publicity because it makes us look bad. Logically, though mistakenly, we think that persecution makes us look bad and it’ll be very hard for people to follow us or hear us if we're getting bad publicity. But we see the opposite here! The more Jesus is persecuted, the more people flock to Him. The persecution of their religious leaders does not hinder these people from coming to Jesus. PEOPLE GO WHERE THEY CAN FIND HELP AND NOTHING’S GOING TO STOP THEM FROM COMING TO YOU IF YOU CAN HELP THEM. Don’t worry about being persecuted or slandered. Concentrate on helping people and they’ll continue coming no matter how bad other people make you look. [277a]

FNNotice that Jesus doesn't use demons to publicize Himself. We crave and encourage good publicity for ourselves. The more favorably people talk about us, the better. So let them talk! But not Jesus! Jesus doesn't use devils in the work of evangelism. Though they speak the truth about Him, He shuts them up and shuts them down. [277b]

FNSome believe that Jesus wanted the people to see Him primarily as a Savior from sin, not a victorious ruling Son of God. Others believe that the immense popularity of being known as the Son of God would have eventually aroused the attention and ire of Rome whose Emperor was worshipped as both king and god; this would have brought Jesus’ ministry to an untimely end. And still others believe that Jesus’ present life on this Earth was one of humiliation, in contrast to His preincarnate glory, and therefore it was altogether unfitting and improper for Him to receive such widespread acclaim. [278]

FNThe Gospel list of apostles is given in Matthew 10:2-3, Mark 3:16-19, and Luke 6:14-16. The list is also found in Acts 1:13. [279]

FNThe verb in the Greek poieo means to make. Hence, Jesus called twelve of his followers unto Himself and He made them His disciples. Luke goes on to say that He named these twelve disciples to be apostles. Now the word apostle, during Jesus’ earthly ministry, is not to be understood in the fivefold apostolic sense of the term. That sense doesn’t come into existence until after Pentecost when the church is established (see 1 Corinthians 12:28). Apostle simply means an ambassador or representative; a messenger with a duty; a delegate who acts on behalf of another. Jesus had many followers or disciples. They were not limited to twelve in number. But amongst these many disciples Jesus chose and made twelve of them to be His official representatives in the work of the Gospel and the kingdom. The fact that He knew these men by name indicates they each had followed Jesus for some time. They were not complete strangers to Him. [280]

FNWhy twelve? Probably as a New Testament Church counterpart to the Old Testament’s twelve tribes of Jacob which made up the nation of Israel. It’s interesting to note that the wall of the new Heavenly Jerusalem has twelve gates with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel written thereon, and twelve foundations with the names of the twelve apostles similarly inscribed (Revelation 21:12-14). [281]

FNThese twelve would function as ministers in His place. They would do His works and preach His message. Here we see the wisdom of our Lord in choosing and training people who would help Him in the work of the kingdom. Jesus did not intend to work or minister all by Himself. He knew He would die and that the work of the kingdom had to be carried on by men who were qualified to do so. Christianity would not die when Jesus died. Do you know why? Because these men carried on His work. Jesus’ task, then, was not only to minister to the sick and lost, but also to prepare others for ministry. My friends, NO ONE OF US—NO MATTER HOW POPULAR OR GIFTED—IS MEANT TO DO THE WORK ALL BY OURSELVES. Like Jesus, our ministry to the lost and the saved also involves us preparing others for ministry. Paul writes in 2 Timothy 2:2 (ESV), And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

No one minister is meant to do all the work by himself. Do you understand that? Every minister needs other ministers to help him and carry on the work when he goes or dies. A part of our task as pastors and ministers is to prepare men to help us and become the next generation of leaders when we die. A church isn’t meant to die when its leader dies! IF YOU COME TO CHURCH TO LISTEN TO ONLY ONE MAN YOUR LIFE IS PROBABLY GOING TO FALL APART WHEN YOUR MAN DIES. You’ve got to get used to the idea of other ministers helping, and running, the ministry because, one day, they’ll be running the ministry. This is God’s pattern for the church. [282]

FNLuke alone makes mention of the fact that the choosing of the twelve was preceded by Jesus’ praying all through the night. My friend, every important decision we make should be preceded by prayer. I'm not talking about a quick, rushed, thoughtless prayer, but rather, a time of focused communion with Him where our goal is to find out what God wants us to do in the particular case at hand. Asking God's advice will save us a lot of troubles and keep us from making the wrong decision.

While I am certain that Jesus spent many nights in prayer, this passage here in Luke is the only recorded instance where Jesus prayed all night. [283]

FNThese apostles are going to preach Jesus’ doctrine and do His works. But first and foremost, they're going to spend time with Him and learn from Him. He's going to teach them how to do their job. Before ministry comes communion or fellowship. That's how you're taught and equipped for ministry. You can’t be an effective minister for God if you spend very little time with Him. YOU LEARN IN HIS PRESENCE. THE MORE TIME YOU SPEND WITH GOD, THE MORE YOU’LL KNOW. THE LESS TIME YOU SPEND WITH GOD, THE LESS YOU’LL KNOW. THE AMOUNT OF KNOWLEDGE YOU HAVE OF GOD IS DEPENDENT ON—AND IT’S A REFLECTION OF—HOW MUCH TIME YOU SPEND WITH GOD.

On a related note, a minister is a very busy man. If your pastor or minister doesn't spend a whole lot of time with God--he's too busy ministering that he doesn't spend a whole lot of time in prayer and Bible study, then be wary of following such a man. Pray for him. A man who doesn't spend time with God is bound to end up missing God and messing up. Follow a man who spends serious time with God. [283a]

FNThis involves praying to Him, reading His Word, praising Him, having our minds set on Him, listening to His Spirit speaking to us, bringing Him into our plans, decisions, and actions, and the such like. When preachers talk about this sort of thing the common response of people is, “Oh no, here’s another thing I’ve got to do!” Brethren, COMMUNION IS NOT SO MUCH A DUTY AS IT IS A PRIVILEGE. Many people followed Jesus. Among them all, only twelve were chosen and privileged to stay with Him. When night came Jesus would send the multitudes away. Or when His time was up in a certain place He would leave. But Jesus allowed these twelve men to be with Him all the time, everywhere He went. It was a privilege. If people back then were like many of us today, there were undoubtedly a lot of people who were envious of the apostles. Many, I’m sure, would have loved to spend a day or a week with Jesus. That kind of close communion with Jesus was a matter of envy to them! It was something to covet! Do you see what I mean? When you see the call to commune with Jesus as a privilege, the communion ceases to be more than just a duty or work: it’s something you do as a matter of desire and choice because you realize that no every one is privileged to walk and commune with Christ on such a deep and personal level. [284]

FNThe word comes from the Greek dunamis, which means power. Jesus had healing power within Himself and whenever He healed, that power went out of Himself and healed the afflicted (see also Luke 8:46). What happens to this power after it has healed is a matter of theological speculation to us. But we know this one thing. Because Jesus healed so many people of so many different afflictions, because He continues to heal today; we see that THE NUMBER AND KIND OF SICKNESSES OR OPPRESSIONS DO NOT EXHAUST JESUS’ HEALING POWER: HE NEVER RUNS OUT OF POWER TO HEAL! HIS HEALING POWER IS INEXHAUSTIBLE! HALLELUJAH! [285]

FNIt’s interesting to note that as a mountain was chosen for the revelation of God’s Law to Moses, so a mountain was chosen for the revelation of God’s commandments of Christian conduct. What the Mosaic Law is to the Old Testament, the Sermon is to the New. As the Law defined Israelite-Jewish character, piety, and conduct; so the Sermon defines the same with respect to the disciples of Christ. [286]

FNA Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, Walter Bauer, translated by Arndt and Gingrich, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979. [288]

FNThe word 'filled' is a graphic one in the Greek language in which the bulk of our New Testament was written. It refers to the feeding and fattening of animals; getting fed with food in abundance. The word is used in the feeding of the five thousand in Mark 6:42, Luke 9:17, and Matthew 14:20; and also when the four thousand were fed and filled in Mark 8:8. In the end times judgment when Christ destroys the armies of antichrist, there'll be so many carcases left on the battlefield for the birds to feast on (Revelation 19:21).

If you really really want to be righteous--you're sick and tired of being selfish and sinful--God will feed you with the righteousness that you seek and you will become, you will be, righteous. It isn't an instantaneous transformation. Like eating, the more you eat the more you become full. In like manner spiritually, the more you choose to do the right thing and do righteous works, the more you become righteous. When God's done with you, you'll be stuffed and fattened with righteousness!

Would you mind if I ask you a very personal question? Are you righteous right now? Do you even desire to be righteous? Or do you enjoy being selfish, self-centered, and sinful? Righteousness begins with a desire or apptetite for it. In the words of Scripture, it begins with you hungering and thirsting after righteousness. If you aren't very righteous, then maybe it's because you really haven't had much of a desire to be righteous. It's like food: you really don't have an appetite when you're not hungry. Righteousness begins with having a hunger and appetite for it.

If you don't have this kind of hunger, ask God to give it to you. He can make you hungry! Don't despair of the fact that you presently have no real desire to be righteous or be a good Christian. Guess what. You're in the perfect position to be hungry! Huh? Come again. I don't understand, you say. Let me explain. Have you ever been famished? Of course you have. When you haven't eaten in a while you get really really hungry and you start thinking about, and looking, for food to eat. In the same way spiritually, when you're righteousness-deficient you're hungry. In the past, you satisfied your hunger with things and pleasures that made you happy and full. Make a change and start satisfying your hunger with good works for others and for God. The more good you do, the more hungry you'll become to do good. When you've worked up an appetite for good, God will give you all kinds of good things to do and He'll help you do them. You'll become righteous. That, my friends, is how you become righteous. [288a]

FNSome people need a real motive or incentive to get things right with God and put away the filth in their life. Some use the love of God. Others use the fear of God. I like to balance the two. But I’ve got to admit that there are some times in life when the only thing that keeps me in the straight and narrow is my holy fear of Hell and of God’s punishment or judgment. Some people don’t take sin seriously. They live smugly with sin in their life. For them, there is no Hell. They’re certainly not going there. Or so they think. People live comfortably with sin because they don’t fear sin’s consequences. Friend, you need to fear God. Proverbs 16:6 tells us, By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil. In plain and simple English, you need to fear God in order to turn away from evil. Fearing Him (that is, fearing what He can do to you both now and when you stand before Him at the Judgment) will cure you of your love affair with sin. The next time you’re tempted to sin and to forget all about being the good Christian that you’re supposed to be, get a Godly vision of Hell’s fires, imagine yourself standing before God, hearing Him pronounce you guilty, and sentencing you to an eternity in Hell; when you see what God can do to you, you’ll do the right thing, obey God, and keep yourself pure. If, after all this, you still don’t believe in God or Hell and still are in love with sin, then I really feel sorry for you because you’re in for a hellish surprise when you meet up with God after you’re dead. Everybody dies. You know that. But what you refuse to know is this. Just as surely as you’ll die, you’ll surely meet up with God in Judgment just as God said would happen: Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment (Hebrews 9:27 NIV). [288b]

FNSince this is true, can we say with some degree of certainty that troublemakers won’t be called God’s children? If we’re prone to making trouble, if we’re pretty good at stirring up strife and creating conflict, if that’s what we want to do, then how can we be true Christians? The devil is a master at fighting and making trouble. And when we act like him, then what right do we have to call ourselves God’s children? It’s so easy to make trouble. That doesn’t take any effort at all. Instead of doing what comes naturally and easily to human nature, stop and think things through. Pray. And don’t do anything—especially rashly or spontaneously—until you first talk to God about it. Ask Him to show you how you can keep, and make, peace. You’re not here to make trouble or fight with people: you’re here to make peace (2 Corinthians 5:19). If you can’t do that, or don’t want to do that, then withdraw from the conflict and don’t contribute to it. The devil loves it when we fight. The next time you’re tempted to fight, remember that and don’t make the devil happy. Make God happy instead and work towards peace. God will show you how to do that.

Can I tell you a little bit about myself? For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved God, church, and the Bible. I love studying the Bible. And God speaks to me, shows me all sorts of things, out of His Word. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t know it all and, quite woefully, there’s a lot of stuff that I don’t know that God wants me to know. But, with over fifty years of study and God’s enlightening voice, I do know a few things. I’ve always been a stickler for God’s Word. And because of it, with everything I know, I fought many fights with Christians and non-Christians over the Bible. I argued with anyone and everyone who had a different take on the Word than I did. In a manner of speaking, I beat people silly with the truth. I regret it all and am sooo sorry and ashamed for all the people I’ve hurt and, am sure, have turned away from the Lord, the church, and the Bible, because of how I went about defending, and proclaiming, the truth.

Time, age, and maturity have a way of teaching us stuff that we didn’t know where we are younger. I know now that you can contend for the faith without being contentious. You can stand up for the truth and proclaim it without hurting and driving people away. I can be true to God without shaming and disgracing Him. Some of you, I know, are just like me in my younger days. You’re so in love with God and the truth that you’ve hurt and shamed our Lord in the offensive way you’ve hurt people with the truth. It’s vitally important to know, have, and proclaim the truth. But you need God’s wisdom and grace to contend for the truth without being contentious. Devote yourself equally as much to being peaceable with people and God will show you how to minister life and the truth to people who need to hear it. [288c]

FNHere and in verses 27 and 33, the phrase said by them of old time (errethe tois archaiois) is more properly translated said to them of old time. In other words, just as Moses delivered the Law to the ancestors of present-day Jews, so Jesus is delivering to the Jews the true intent or spirit of that Law. [289]

FNEike, meaning without reason or cause. The word is not found in the Nestle Greek Text, hence the reading, whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment. In this sense, anger under any circumstance is wrong. The word, however, is found in the Textus Receptus, which is the Greek text from which the King James Version was translated. In this sense, there are times when anger would not be sin (Ephesians 4:26). We all have reasons for getting angry, but the idea behind eike is the legitimacy of our reasons. Sometimes our reasons for getting angry are vain or useless. In other words, there are times when our reasons for getting angry are really no reason at all to be angry. [290]

FNEmptyhead, worthless. In the vernacular, idiot, dummy, crazy, stupid, retard, moron, and the like. [291]

FNFool means what it means: someone who lacks good sense. The word is often used in Scripture of a person who commits a great, or serious, sin (Deuteronomy 22:21, Joshua 7:15, Psalm 14:1). [291a]

FNWe sometimes call people names as a form of having fun with one another. We’re just teasing and not meaning to hurt one another’s feelings. This kind of name-calling done in fun may not necessarily be appropriate or recommended. So often it leads to unintended consequences: people's feelings get hurt and a verbal spat often ensues. So what starts out being fun often leads to anger. [291b]

FNCome to terms quickly. Come to an agreement or settlement. [291c]

FNThat is, while you are on your way to court. The idea is to settle the matter before you get to court; to settle it out of court. [291d]

FNA quadrant or 1/4 of an assarion, equal in value to 1/10 of a denarius or 2 mites. Okay, it still doesn't make any sense that way. In plainspeak, all Jesus is saying here is you won't get out of prison until you've paid the very last cent. You've got to pay everything you owe! [291e]

FNNote who caused her to commit adultery. If you divorce your spouse for reasons other than fornication you would be causing him or her to commit adultery if he or she remarries. They'll be the one committing adultery, but it’ll be your fault because you put your spouse in that position of remarrying. God will hold you liable for both your adultery and his or hers. [291f]

FNEpiorkeseis means to perjure oneself or fail to keep one’s oath. [292]

FNUnfortunately, this doesn’t mean that a Christian can’t lie. The fact of the matter is, as in every area of life or sin, Christians are capable of lying. However, the high standard of righteousness that Jesus wants us all to attain to, and exceed, is to not ever lie. WHILE CHRISTIANS ARE CAPABLE OF LYING, A FAITHFUL, CHRIST-OBEYING, GOD-FEARING CHRISTIAN DOESN’T LIE. If you’re a professing Christian and you find yourself lying quite a bit, something is very much wrong with you! You’re either in need of salvation itself or in need of deliverance from a demonic spirit of lying. In either case, REGARDLESS OF WHO YOU PROFESS YOURSELF TO BE, A LIAR WILL NOT MAKE IT TO HEAVEN, Revelation 21:8. Get it right or you’ll be fried! [293]

FNThis is the law of conscription that ancient cultures used. The King’s officials were empowered with the right to force anyone to help them obey the King’s orders. The analogy here is that of a courier. The courier is delivering a message. His backpack of supplies is getting too heavy for him to carry, so the courier taps a bystander on the shoulder and that bystander is required by law to carry the courier’s backpack for him. If the courier wants you to carry this backpack for 1 mile, then Jesus tells us to carry it 2 miles for him. [293a]

FNFor a discussion of non-resistance and self-defense see our commentary on Luke 22:35-38 and Matthew 26:51, as well as footnotes 1822 & 1823. [294]

FNThe usual Jewish posture during prayer was standing up. [295a]

FNHow do we honor God's Name? By living and speaking righteously. See Jeremiah 34:16, 44:25-26, Ezekiel 13:19, Amos 2:7. We honor and hallow God by living righteously the way He’s taught and told us to live. You can pray and speak nicely to God, but if you’re living abominably and treating people shamefully, then you’re bringing dishonor and disrespect to God; you’re shaming Him in the sight of people. [295b]

FNChristians fasted often in the New Testament and they did so in combination with prayer (Acts 13:1-3, 14:23). The reason they fasted was in order to concentrate their attention on one thing and pray diligently about it. [294a]

FNMatthew 9:15, Mark 2:20, Luke 5:35. Click here for additional notes on Christians and fasting. [294b]

FNPsalms 35:13, 69:10. [294c]

FNSome of the things we do are to be seen by men (Matthew 5:16). We don’t do them for the motive or sake of being seen: we just do them and men can’t help but see them. But there are also some things we do that aren’t supposed to be noticed by others, like giving our offerings, praying, or fasting. This doesn’t mean we’re not supposed to do these things in public or in front of people. What it does mean is WE DON’T PUBLICIZE WHAT WE’RE DOING. SOME THINGS, BRETHREN, ARE MEANT TO BE SOLELY BETWEEN THE LORD AND OURSELVES. [294d]

FNOne cubit is about 18 inches. [294e]

FNDogs, for the most part, were not kept as pets in the ancient Biblical world. They were wild and undomesticated. They roamed the streets and scavenged for food. Some people probably kept them as pets, as in Matthew 15:26-27, but it must be remembered that Jesus was in a Gentile region at the time of this saying, speaking to a Gentile woman. Jews regarded dogs as unclean animals because they ate anything and everything that were unclean, filth, and garbage.

Dogs are mentioned in 3 places in the New Testament: (1) Philippians 3:2, Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. (2) 2 Peter 2:22, But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. And (3) Revelation 22:15, For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

From these Scripture references it is possible to identify dogs as (1) referring to unsaved people in general, Revelation 22:15. (2) In Philippians 3:2 dogs can also refer to religious deceivers who would corrupt the Christian with their false, erroneous teachings. And (3) dogs could also refer to people who were, at one time Christians, but who later backslid and fell completely away from the Lord without ever returning to Him, 2 Peter 2:20-22. [294f]

FNNotice nevertheless that Jesus, on the one hand, bids us go and witness. READ MATTHEW 10:1-23. But, on the other hand, Jesus bids us leave (Matthew 10:14) and flee (Matthew 10:23) when we are rejected and persecuted.What’s the point? How do we reconcile Jesus’ prohibition here in Matthew 7:6 with His commandment to evangelize in Matthew 10? UNTIL YOU ACTUALLY WITNESS AND PRESENT THE GOSPEL TO PEOPLE YOU DON’T KNOW WHICH OF THESE PEOPLE YOU’RE WITNESSING TO ARE DOGS AND SWINE. You can also ascertain who dogs and swine are by the reliable testimony of Christians who’s tried to witness to these dogs and swine. Sometimes, you also know who they are by the antichristian testimony and reputation that they have.ONCE YOU ASCERTAIN THAT CERTAIN SPECIFIC PEOPLE ARE DOGS AND SWINE, THEN JESUS DOESN’T WANT YOU WITNESSING TO THEM: they’ll only hurt you and treat the sacred Gospel with derision, contempt, and mockery. So what can you do when you run across a proven dog and swine? Pray for them and let someone else try to get through to them.

A WORD OF CAUTION. Just because a person doesn’t receive your witness the first time doesn’t automatically mean he or she is a dog or swine. You can continue witnessing to people who are adverse to the truth. YOU JUST HAVE TO BE LED OF THE LORD AND NOT GIVE UP SO EASILY OR READILY WHEN PEOPLE AREN’T LISTENING TO YOU OR GETTING SAVED. Paul worked with Jews who were resistant to the truth and he tried for as long as he could to get them saved. But there finally came a time when he had to quit and leave them. Acts 19:8-9 And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. (9) But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. What makes a person a dog or swine is what they do with the Gospel and what they do to you. It’s one thing to reject the Gospel: it’s another thing to make fun of the Gospel and treat it blasphemously and irreverently. It’s one thing for people to reject you: it’s another thing for them to go on the offense and attack you, hurt you, or kill you. NOT EVERYONE WHO DOESN’T LISTEN TO YOU THE FIRST TIME OR THE FIRST FEW TIMES IS A DOG OR SWINE. So don’t quit witnessing until the Lord shows you it’s time to quit. [294g]

FNOur problems not only render us unqualified to judge, but also, and more importantly, it renders us unqualified to help. It’s always easier to forget or overlook our own faults and start criticizing others for their own faults. This is hypocritical and God doesn’t want us to do this! Why? Because OUR FAULTS RENDER US INCAPABLE OF HELPING OTHERS GET RID OF THEIRS. Does this mean we have to be perfect before we can help somebody with his or her own faults? No. What it does mean is, if we’ve got a problem in our life, then we’re not equipped or qualified to help others who have the same, or similar, problem. WE’VE GOT TO TAKE CARE OF OUR OWN PROBLEMS BEFORE WE TRY TO HELP OTHERS WITH THEIRS. IN THIS LIGHT, WE’RE NO GOOD OR USE TO THIS WORLD IF WE DON’T TAKE CARE OF OUR PROBLEMS. [294h]

FNThe Greek word helikia can refer to either age (that is, lifespan) or height (that is, stature). Hence, different translations translate this verse differently according to their translators' best interpretation or understanding of Jesus' words here. The man born blind in John 9:21,23 was old enough to answer his interrogators' questions for himself. Similarly, Sarah was past the age of concieving in Hebrews 11:11. Zacchaeus, on the other hand, with this same helikia being used, was too small that he couldn't see Jesus because of all the people that surrounded him, Luke 19:3. No matter how you translate the word, I don't think your translation would be wrong: we'd all end up in the same position of acknowledging that worry can't add to our height or lifespan. Personally speaking, I don't know anyone who wants to be 18 inches taller. Hence, I prefer to understand Jesus' words here as referring to our utter inability to live a single moment or hour longer when death comes to take our life away. [294i]

FNMatthew and Luke both record this healing incident. Their accounts, however, vary in this one respect. In Matthew, the centurion makes an appeal to Jesus in person, whereas in Luke, he does so through the intermediation of certain elders and friends. So whose account is the accurate one? Luke’s, because his is a fuller, more detailed account. Contrary to the claims of critics, there is no apparent contradiction between the two Gospel accounts. Matthew records the centurion’s petition and Luke records the manner in which that petition was presented to Jesus. Since the intermediaries were only saying what the centurion told them to say, in Matthew’s eyes, it’s as if the centurion himself was present and talking personally with Jesus. [295]

FNA garrison of the Roman army was stationed in Capernaum. A centurion was an officer who had command of a hundred soldiers. The army was divided as follows. A quaternion or a half contubernium consisted of four soldiers who were assigned to small patrols. A contubernium was a group of eight soldiers who shared a field tent. Ten contubernia comprised a century. A hundred men, strictly speaking, made a century, but the number was often reduced to seventy or eighty men. Six centuries made a cohort and ten cohorts made a legion. The average Roman legion consisted of about six thousand soldiers. [296]

FNAccording to Matthew, the slave was a paralytic (Matthew 8:6). While paralysis is not normally death-threatening, there are times when the condition would deteriorate and muscular spasms would occur, adversely affecting the respiratory system and the paralytic’s ability to breathe. In Matthew’s words, the paralytic was grievously tormented. The idea is that of being excessively tortured or pained. The paralytic’s condition had deteriorated to a point where there was a lot of suffering and pain involved and death was inevitable. [297]

FNHow did the centurion hear about Jesus? Both he and Jesus lived in Capernaum. Besides teaching in its synagogue, Jesus also performed many miracles in this city. Word of Jesus got around. It’s also possible that the centurion heard of Jesus’ compassion and power from the nobleman whose son Jesus healed (John 4:46-54). [298]

FNThe word elders used here is the same word presbuteros used in Acts 14:23, I Timothy 5:17, Titus 1:5, and elsewhere. With respect to the Jews, the term could denote a member of the Sanhedrin (Matthew 16:21, 26:57,59) or someone in a position of leadership (Acts 4:8). Since the Sanhedrin was based in Jerusalem, it is likely that the elders referred to here were local rulers among the Jews in Capernaum. [299]

FNRomans, especially those in the military, were not usually cordial or favorably inclined to the Jews since the Jews opposed Roman occupation and were rebellious towards Rome. The fact that this officer loved the Jews and built a synagogue for them has raised a question as to whether or not he was a Gentile proselyte to Judaism. Edersheim thinks not, for proselytes were regarded as equals and there would have been no need for the centurion to regard himself as unworthy. Additionally, Jesus’ commendation of a faith not found in Israel points to the fact that Jesus was not talking about the land of Israel geographically, since Capernaum was in Israel; but rather, He was talking about the people of Israel, the Jews. In other words, He was referring to the centurion as a Gentile, and not as a Jew or as a Jewish proselyte.

Now the houses of Gentiles were considered defiled and a Jew who entered them would have been likewise defiled. The fact that the centurion later changed his mind about Jesus coming to his house gives evidence that the man was somewhat familiar with Jewish religion and respected it. He did not want Jesus to defile Himself.

If this healing incident can be used as a precedent, and there’s no reason why it can’t, then we see here that EVEN THOUGH A PERSON IS NOT YET SAVED, GOD WILL, IN HIS MERCY AND COMPASSION, HEAL HIM IF HE—OR A BELIEVER PRAYING ON HIS BEHALF—CRIES OUT TO GOD AND BELIEVES HIM FOR HEALING. The healing of Naaman in the Old Testament and the deliverance of the Syro-Phoenician’s daughter in the New appear to substantiate this view. As in the case of Naaman, I’d like to believe that the answer to prayer will be a catalyst in bringing the unsaved-now-healed to salvation (2 Kings 5:17). [300]

FNThe remains of a synagogue in Capernaum have been unearthed and stands to this day. [301]

FNScullo is used only three times in the New Testament: here with the centurion’s servant and in Mark 5:35, Luke 8:49 with Jairus’ daughter. The idea is one of not wanting to inconvenience Jesus and take up more of His time. [302]

FNOn only two occasions in the Gospel accounts is Jesus said to have marveled. This is one of them and the other is in Mark 6:6. In the one instance, Jesus marveled at the faith of a Gentile; in the other, at the unbelief of the Jews in Nazareth. The Greek thoumazo means to wonder or hold in admiration. [303]

FNThere are three Greek words that are translated whole, each of them meaning essentially the same thing. (1) The one used here is hugiaino, to be healthy. (2) Ischuo, used in Matthew 9:12 among others, means to be strong, to have strength. (3) Sozo, used in Matthew 9:21 and elsewhere, speaks of being healed or saved. [304]

FNIn Matthew’s account, the centurion speaks of his servant as my child or son (Greek pais, in Matthew 8:6,9,13). Clearly, the slave was loved greatly by his master. I’d like for you to note the human decency of this centurion. As far as the Romans were concerned, as well as everyone else in the empire, slaves were not really considered people. They were possessions. They were like animals that you used and worked hard. They weren’t considered people with feelings and emotions. You didn’t care about them or what they were going through. But this centurion is a different breed. He loves his slave. From Matthew’s rendering of the account in the Greek, this centurion views and treats this young slave as his son or child. The centurion cares about this slave and it’s this care that brought him to Jesus.

Brethren, THE PEOPLE YOU PRAY FOR—THE NUMBER OF YOUR PRAYER REQUESTS FOR OTHERS—ARE AN INDICATION OF HOW MUCH, OR HOW LITTLE, YOU CARE FOR PEOPLE. The centurion’s love and care brought him to Jesus in prayer and it works the same way for us. We bring the people that we love in prayer to God; we mention their names and their needs to others so that more people can pray for them. And if we’re not praying a whole lot for people, we have to ask ourselves if we care at all for other people; if we care about what they’re going thru. With all the people we know, with everything we know they’re going through, we should be super busy in prayer. A substantial amount of our time should be in prayer for these we supposedly, professedly, love. How much time do we spend praying for people? What’s your prayer life like? YOUR PRAYERS ARE A MEASURE, THEY REVEAL, THE LEVEL OF YOUR CARE AND COMPASSION FOR OTHERS. [305]

FNIt’s interesting to note that on only two occasions Jesus commended a person for the greatness of their faith. The centurion was one of them and the other was the Syro-Phoenician woman. In both instances, those who had the greatest faith were Gentiles! [306]

FNYOUR PRAYERS MAKE A LIFE-SAVING DIFFERENCE. I’ve got one more encouragement for you. We don’t know much of anything about the Roman centurion’s servant. We don’t know if he was saved or if he was even believing. Chances are, he wasn’t. Most of the slaves that the Romans had were Gentiles. Not too many Jews would work for a Roman because that would involve religious or ceremonial defilement. But his master believed. Jairus believed for his daughter (Mark 5:21-43). The nobleman believed for his son (John 4:46-53). The Syro-Phoenician woman believed for her daughter (Matthew 15:21-28). The father of the lunatick believed for his son (Mark 9:14-27). They all had a need. They came to Jesus on behalf of their seriously-sick or demon-tormented loved one. And Jesus answered their prayer. Friends, if you have a friend or relative who’s sick—even though they may not be saved yet or believing the Lord for healing—you can petition Jesus on his or her behalf and trust the Lord to heal and preserve life. God will do it on the basis of your faith. BRETHREN, YOU CAN BELIEVE FOR THE SALVATION AND HEALING OF YOUR LOVED ONES! [Click here to read additional notes on this incident from Simon the Zealot's perspective.] [306a]

FNA rend of about a handbreadth (three inches) was made on the inner, not the outer, garments. After the thirtieth day, the rend could be mended, but in the case of parents, it could never be sewed up again. Other acts of mourning included: wearing sackcloth, scattering dirt on one’s head, lying in dust, shaving part of a beard or shaving a bald spot on the head, cutting or pulling out hair, beating one’s breasts, even lacerating the body. Mourning was to last thirty days. It was customary during this first month for mourners to visit the tomb to reanoint the body (Mark 16:1), as well as pray and mourn for the dead (John 11:31). During the first seven of these thirty days, it was forbidden to wash, put on shoes, study, or engage in business. Children were to mourn for their dead parents an entire year. [308]

FNThe spices may have served as a preservative, as well as to counteract the odor of the dead. [309]

FNThere was no public viewing of the body. [310]

FNThe open bier explains how the boy-now-raised-back-to-life could sit up in the bier, Luke 7:15. Additionally, babies less than a month old were carried to the cemetery by their mothers. [311]

FNDoing all things needful in relation to the dead—from preparation to procession to burial—were exempt from Sabbath laws. They weren’t violations of the prohibition against working on the Sabbath. [312]

FNAdditional details on Jewish funeral customs may be found in Edersheim’s The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, (Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1976), Vol. I, pp. 552-556, as well as in Sketches of Jewish Social Life, by the same author (Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994), pp.148-161. [313]

FNThis incident is found only in the book of Luke and it is only in this account that we read of the city of Nain; it is nowhere else mentioned in Scripture. Nain, which means ‘The Lovely,” is located about twenty-five miles southwest of Capernaum and ten miles southeast of Nazareth. The city remains inhabited to this day. Incidentally, an ancient cemetery is located about a ten minutes’ walk east of Nain. [314]

FNI put myself in this woman's sandals and blogged about the emotions she was probably feeling at the time. Of course, it's only an imaginary literary piece. But I think it draws out the emotion of the scene. History for so many is cold, detached, uninteresting, and boring. But once you place yourself in the historical scene, history changes. It gives you a different perspective. Click here to see what I mean. The piece is entitled 'Jesus The Brightener'. [314a]

FNThis was one of the ways the Jews referred to Messiah. Since the time the prophecies were given, Messiah would be referred to as ‘the coming One’. [315]

FNAccording to Josephus the Jewish historian, John the Baptist was imprisoned at Machaerus, known today as Khirbet Mukawer. The place is never once mentioned in Scripture. Now Machaerus was a high and natural rock formation, similar in many respects to Masada. It was surrounded on all sides by steep valleys and was situated at the extreme borders of Perea, a province that was under Antipas’ tetrarchy, not too far from the borders of Arabia. It was about 3.5 miles east of the Dead Sea and 10 miles south from the Sea’s northern tip. Its strategic location was recognized by the Hasmonean King Alexander Jannaeus, who built a fortress there. It was subsequently destroyed by the Romans, but with the ascendancy of Herod the Great to the throne, the fortress was restored and enlarged. A small town was built at the base of the rock fortress, surrounded by high walls and towers. Further up the fortress, at its highest elevation, Herod constructed a castle with walls and towers that were 240 feet high (160 cubits). The dungeon where John the Baptist was imprisoned was located in this castle. Also within the castle was a magnificent palace, complete with cisterns, storehouses, and arsenals. Clearly, Herod constructed the fortress to withstand a prolonged siege. The Romans, however, through an ingenious plan, conquered and destroyed it in the last Jewish war. This aspect of Jewish history can be gleaned from Josephus’ Wars of the Jews, Book VII Chapter VI and Antiquities of the Jews, Book XVIII Chapter V. Scattered remains of the fortress can still be seen today. Though the Baptist was imprisoned, he was nevertheless allowed to have visitors. John’s disciples, then, still had access to him and it was on one of these visits that they told their master about the activities of Jesus. Incidentally, since Jesus was living and ministering in Capernaum and the surrounding towns of Galilee, this trip to Machaerus by John’s disciples involved anywhere from 60 to 100 miles. [316]

FNCommentators are by no means agreed on this point. Some, like Ryle in his Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, believe that John was asking the question for the sake of his disciples. If they would only go to Jesus and talk personally with Him, they would see that Jesus was really the Messiah and thus, they would follow Him. In other words, within the framework of this interpretation, John knew that he would eventually be killed and so, he was trying to wean his disciples away from himself and encouraging them, like John and Andrew, to follow Jesus.

Others, like Lange in his Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, believe that John’s question was not so much a matter of doubt or unbelief as it was a matter of impatience. John, like everyone else in his day, expected Messiah to deliver the Jews from the yoke of Roman bondage and social injustice; He would make everything right. John, then, was being impatient with Jesus. Jesus wasn’t doing what He was supposed to be doing, namely, delivering him from the injustice of Herod Antipas. “Jesus, if you’re really the Messiah, why aren’t you doing anything about my imprisonment? Won’t you please hurry up and get me out of here?!” [317]

FNLuke 3:16, John 1:15,18, 29-36, 3:28-30, Acts 19:4. [318]

FNWhen things don't go our way, or the way we thought they would go, or the way God said they would go; the first thing that comes to mind and mouth is, God's wrong! God's failed me! He lied! He didn't do what He said He would do.

A lot of people mouth off at God when they're angry with Him. I can understand that, but I don't recommend it. Would you mind if I give you a piece of sound advice? Talk honestly to God, but leave anger and hatred out of it. Getting mad at God may make you feel better and justified in leaving Him. But no one forsakes God and lives a better life. No one is better off turning their back on God. No one. And that includes you.

Here's a better way. When God doesn't come through for you in the way you thought He would, hold fast to this one truth and don't question it or let it go. The truth is, GOD’S WORD IS TRUE! It's all true. It's always true. Hold on to this truth and faith. God doesn’t lie. He’s never lied. Not even once. And He will not lie to you.

But if God is true and if this is what He’s promised us, then why is the exact opposite happening? Because there are things about God’s Word and plans that we just don’t fully understand—even though we think we understand. The Jews believed in the coming of Messiah. There would be One Messiah with Two Missions--one spiritual, the other political. But to a person, even righteous Jews believed in One Coming. But the Scriptures never explicitly said that there would be only One Coming. We got that impression from Scripture but we’ve got to admit that Scriptures never came right out and said that. We got it wrong! It was One Messiah, Two Missions, Two Comings.

So what's the point? The point is, THERE ARE THINGS AND SCRIPTURES THAT WE DON’T FULLY UNDERSTAND. WE THINK WE DO. BUT WE DON’T. AND IT TAKES THE COLD HARD FACTS OF LIFE AND REALITY TO WAKE UP TO THE FACT THAT WE DON’T KNOW IT ALL. God's wisdom and plan are so much more than we can know. We don't know it all! But this one thing we know: God is true, He is faithful, and, in one way or another, whether in this life or the next, He will keep His Word! Brethren, let this truth comfort your angry, anguished heart. God knows best and everything, I mean everything, He does is for your good. [318a]

FNLike the rest of the Jews, John the Baptist didn’t know about a second advent of Messiah to deliver the Jews from the oppression of the nations. That revelation was simply never given to them. They knew Messiah would be a political Ruler as well as a spiritual Savior. They knew He would be King as well as Servant. Because John was involved in a political imprisonment he perhaps magnified the political aspects of Christ and forgot about the spiritual. Brethren, IF YOU STICK WITH THE WHOLE COUNSEL AND NOT FORGET OR IGNORE SOME ASPECTS OF THE WORD, YOU WON’T HAVE THE PROBLEMS WITH DOUBT THAT YOU HAVE. QUESTIONS CEASE TO BE QUESTIONS WHEN YOU TAKE EVERYTHING THE WORD SAYS ABOUT A MATTER INTO CONSIDERATION. [319]

FNI must be on a roll here. I put myself in the sandals of the widow of Nain and I've done it again with John the Baptist. How would I feel if I was the Baptist? How would you feel? Click here to read the Baptist's last words if I was him. [319a]

FNJohn wasn’t fickle. He wasn’t moved by the winds of adversity or persecution. No matter how hard the winds blew or where the winds came from, he didn’t compromise and change his message. He stuck to it. Brethren, do the winds of adversity, the hardships of life, or the trials involved in this walk with the Lord, cause you to falter, bend, and compromise? Anyone can compromise under life’s pressures and problems. Honor the man or woman who refuses to do so. Friends, it’s possible to go through life’s trials and not lose your morals or integrity, your convictions, your faith, and your spiritual vision! [320]

FNIt’s possible to esteem or respect a man without worshipping or idolizing him. In Jesus eyes, as great as a man may be, the least in the kingdom is still greater than him! [321]

Jesus paid very high tribute to John. In fact, out of His own mouth, Jesus paid no higher tribute to any man than this! John was the greatest prophet who ever lived—greater than even Moses himself! Think of all the people you think are the greatest who've ever lived. John was greater yet! Why is that? Because John prepared the people for Messiah's coming. Now you have to remember that these people have been told for hundreds of years that Messiah was coming. After all these years of fruitless waiting, people begin to yawn and say, “yady yady dah. Yeah, right.” But this time it’s for real! Messiah really is coming! In fact, He’s already been born! He’s alive right now and He’s somewhere here in Israel. After John baptized Jesus, John could say “The Messiah has come! His name is Jesus!”

That wasn't all. John had to get people ready to meet their Lord. How was he supposed to get them ready? By bringing them to repentance and getting them to live a righteous life. Do you know how hard it is to get people to listen to you, take you seriously, clean up their act, and live righteously? In our day and age you’ll practically get killed if you tell people to their face that they’re sinning and they need to cut it out. You take your life in your hands whenever you preach against sin. You lose people, you lose friends, whenever you get personal and vocal about people's sins. This was John’s job and he was very successful! He got a lot of people to change their life and get them spiritually-oriented. Brethren, DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHO GOD THINKS ARE THE GREATEST? The ones who are bold enough to confront sin and sinners and get them to turn to the Lord. The soul of a person is most precious and those who help people escape Hell's fires and know the Lord personally are truly the greatest ones among us. [321]

FNNotice when Jesus started paying tribute to John. He didn’t pay tribute to John until after John’s disciples were leaving. His disciples never heard what Jesus had to say about their master. It’s like Jesus didn’t want them to hear His tribute to John. Why not? Think of the tremendous encouragement this would have been to John. His disciples came back to him telling him about all the miracles Jesus did. But Jesus didn’t say a word about coming to get him out of prison! Jesus didn’t say what John wanted to hear! This would have been a real downer. So to cheer the guy up Jesus could encourage John with this high tribute and John would forget all about getting his head cut off. I’m the greatest prophet that ever lived! I can die knowing that I was great. But Jesus doesn’t encourage John with these words of tribute! Why? I don’t know exactly, and I can guess the reasons why Jesus might not have wanted John to hear His words of praise. But what God does want me to tell you is this. GOD WILL ENCOURAGE YOU WHEN YOU NEED ENCOURAGING. BUT HIS GREATEST TRIBUTE TO YOU IS NOT FOR YOU TO HEAR IN THIS LIFETIME. If you've got a big ego and want God to tell you and everyone else just how great you are, forget it. You're not going to hear it. These kinds of words are for others to hear, but not you. YOU’LL GET YOUR TRIBUTE FROM GOD WHEN YOU STAND BEFORE HIS THRONE. THEN EVERYONE, INCLUDING THE ANGELS AND SAINTS, WILL HEAR WHAT GOD HAS TO SAY ABOUT YOU. You'll have to wait till then to hear your tribute. You'll not hear it here and now. [321a]

FNPossessing the kingdom is not a matter of easy believism or complacency. It’s a matter of violence or force. As impregnable as Machaerus was, the Romans nevertheless worked and persevered and broke into the fortress. In like manner, if you want to enter the kingdom you’ve got to overcome the many obstacles that lie in your way. The way is narrow and arduous and lonely (Matthew 7:13-14). It’s filled with persecutions and afflictions (Matthew 5:11-12, Acts 14:22, 2 Timothy 3:12). And Satan and his demonic hosts fight furiously to deter us from the kingdom (Ephesians 6:10-18). Clearly, we don’t work for our salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9). But once we’re saved, it’s going to take work for us to persevere in this life and enter into the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 7:21-27, 24:13, Ephesians 2:10, 1 Timothy 6:11-12, Hebrews 4:1-11, 12:14, 1 Peter 4:18). [Click here to read additional comments on what it means to take the kingdom of Heaven by force.] [322]

FNThe Old Testament from Genesis to Malachi prophesied about the coming Christ. Since the coming of Christ was to be preceded by His messenger or herald, John, then, being this herald, marked the beginning of the fulfillment of Messianic prophecies. In this way, then, the Baptist was the last of the prophets to prophesy of the coming Christ and he was also the first of them to usher in the fulfillment of this prophecy. [323]

FNThe coming of Christ was to be preceded by the appearance of the prophet Elijah, according to the prophecy of Malachi 4:5-6, Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: (6) and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. The Jews rightly believed that Elijah would come back to Earth again. I believe he will and that he’s one of the two witnesses in Revelation 11 who will precede Christ’s second advent to the earth. The Jews, however, missed Christ’s first advent, in part, because they were looking for the historical figure of Elijah; they failed to perceive that John the Baptist was Elijah in the sense that he came in the spirit and power of Elias (Luke 1:17). [324]

FNBy their submission to John’s baptism, people were demonstrating their faith in his message. They believed the message was true, it was from God, and they declared God’s judgment against sin to be right. The Pharisees, on the other hand, didn’t believe what John preached was true or from God—that’s why they didn’t let John baptize them. In this way, A PERSON’S FAITH IS REFLECTED OR DETECTED IN HIS OR HER RESPONSE TO THE MESSAGE. THE RESPONSE TELLS WHETHER OR NOT HE OR SHE BELIEVES THE SERMON THEY’VE HEARD. As we’ve often heard, NO ONE BELIEVES GOD’S WORD WHO DOES NOT ACT ON GOD’S WORD. [325]

FNOneidizo means to reproach or revile; to speak unfavorably or disgracefully of something or someone. The same Greek word is used in Matthew 5:11 where Jesus says we’re blessed when men shall revile you and persecute you. If you’re wondering if Jesus reproaches only the unrepentant, wonder no more: He reproaches believers who refuse to believe, Mark 16:14. [326]

FNThis is the only instance in Scripture where Chorazin is mentioned. It was located northwest of the Sea of Galilee and about two miles north of Capernaum. By Eusebius’ time (@ A.D. 263-339) the town was no longer inhabited. Some of its ruins can still be seen today in what is now the town of Karazeh. [327]

FNBethsaida was once the home of several of our Lord’s disciples, namely, Philip, Peter, Andrew, James and John. It was in the vicinity of this city where Jesus fed the 5,000 (Luke 9:10-17). Bethsaida was located north of the Sea of Galilee, but from Josephus’ writings, it appears there was more than one city by that name: one on the western shores of Jordan River as it flows into the Sea of Galilee, and another on the eastern shores of that same River. Bethsaida on the east was greatly enlarged and beautified by Herod Philip, the Tetrarch, who renamed the city Julias (Bethsaida-Julias) in honor of the Roman Emperor Augustus’ daughter. [328]

FNImmediately after reproaching the unrepentant cities, Matthew cites Jesus’ prayer of thanksgiving in verses 25-27. According to Luke, Jesus prayed this prayer after the seventy disciples returned from their evangelistic mission (Luke 10:17-24). I’d like to reserve my comments on this prayer for when we get to that particular study in the life of Christ. [329]

FNThis incident is not to be confused with an anointing of Jesus by Mary in John 12:1-8 and parallels. This present account is peculiar to Luke. He’s the only Gospel writer to record this event. [330]

FNIt was a common and accepted practice that whenever a rabbi would visit and dine at someone’s house, neighbors and people in general could drop in to hear the rabbi’s words of wisdom. Though the woman had been a sinner and would definitely not have been invited by a Pharisee into his house, she nevertheless did what she, and everyone else, was free to do. This was an act of boldness on her part, especially when you consider the fact that she was disdained as a sinner and it was a Pharisee’s house that she was going into. [331]

FNAlabastron muron, literally, alabaster of ointment. The ointment was a perfumed oil, probably the oil of roses or of the iris plant. It was used as a perfume, as well as to sweeten or freshen up one’s breath. The perfume was not stored in a box, but rather, in a small phial or flask made either of alabaster, glass, silver or gold. Like a necklace, the flask was worn around the neck. In fact, so many women wore it that many of the rabbis allowed them to wear it even on the Sabbath (Shabbath 6.3). [332]

FNHow could this woman stand behind Jesus and still be able to wash His feet? Well, the Jews did not sit on chairs when they ate, but rather, they reclined on couches or mattresses around a low table. Facing the table, they would support themselves with their left elbow and stretch their legs out away from the table. Thus, as Jesus reclined, the woman came behind Him and started washing His feet. [333]

FNIt was considered shameful for a woman to cut her hair (see 1 Corinthians 11:15). Thus, women wore their hair long, braided or bound, and covered with a headdress. Now it was considered an act of immodesty for a woman to loosen her tresses in public. Thus, in letting her hair down, the woman did what she wasn’t supposed to do in public. Though the gesture likely drew gasps of horror or shame from those who were present at the dinner, Jesus didn’t forbid or stop the woman from doing it. What would ordinarily have been considered an act of immodesty was, in this instance, an act of worship and contrition. [334]

FNIn the Greek, this wasn’t a single kiss, but rather, a continual kissing. She kept on kissing Jesus’ feet. [335]

FNHer sins are not specified, but it’s commonly assumed that she was either a prostitute or an adulterer. The fact that Simon knew about her life of sin gives indication that she was renown as a sinner. [336]

FNSimon’s estimation of Jesus is perhaps best reflected in how he addressed our Lord at this particular point. The word Master comes from the Greek didaskale, which means instructor or teacher. As far as Simon was concerned, Jesus was a teacher. [337]

FNThe Roman denarius was a monetary sum equal to one day’s wage, worth approximately 44 cents today (see Matthew 20:2). This coin, minted in silver, was the coin used to pay tribute or tax to Caesar. The Greek equivalent of this coin was called the drachma. In Jesus’ illustration here, the person in debt for 500 denarii would have had to work almost a year and a half (excluding Sabbaths) to repay the debt. In contrast, the person who owed 50 denarii would have had to work only two months to repay the debt. [338]

FNFreely, to grant as a favor; to do something gratuitously out of kindness. [339]

FNWhen a guest entered a house, three things were customarily done by the host. First, the host would place his hands on the guest’s shoulder, give him the kiss of peace, and pronounce the invocation “The Lord be with you.” In the case of a distinguished rabbi, this greeting or kiss was always done. Second, since the roads were often dusty, the guest’s sandals would be removed and his feet washed in cool, refreshing water. And third, his head would be anointed with oil, either of olive or of roses. Simon ignored all these customs, thus revealing his lack of respect or courtesy for Jesus. He sure wasn’t a very good host! [340]

FNThe verb in the Greek is in the perfect tense, denoting past completed action with continuing present effect. The verse, then, should be translated, Thy sins have been, and presently are, forgiven. In other words, the woman’s sins were forgiven prior to this dinner event and what Jesus was doing here was assuring her of the fact that she truly was forgiven and saved the moment she believed and repented. What likely happened was, somewhere along the line, the woman heard Jesus teach, she believed what Jesus said, she repented, and was saved from her sins. Perhaps as a way of showing her thanks to the Lord, she came to Simon’s house to anoint Jesus’ feet.

It’s instructive to note that, whereas this woman came to Jesus as one who was recently saved, Simon saw her as one who was still a sinner: hamartolos esti, she is a sinner (verse 39). Contrast his view of the woman with that of Luke’s in verse 37, en hamartolos, she was—but is not now—a sinner. [341]

FNSimon is assuming that one mark of a true prophet is he doesn’t allow himself to be touched by a sinner. This was a cultural custom thingy and it had nothing to do with the Word. It’s not based on a precept or commandment of Moses’ Law. It’s not Scripture. So Simon’s discernment is not based on the Word, but rather, based on custom. And it’s here we learn that JUST BECAUSE IT’S CUSTOM DOESN’T MEAN IT’S THE WORD. We have our ideas and ways about doing things, about how things ought to be; customs of what’s right and what’s wrong; but our ideas and customs aren’t necessarily the same thing as Scripture. WHAT’S CUSTOM IS NOT NECESSARILY SCRIPTURAL. You have to separate custom from Scripture and not mistake of equating custom with Scripture. YOU CAN BE RIGHT ACCORDING TO CUSTOM, BUT WRONG ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE. [341a]

FNThere’s only one sin that God won’t forgive and that’s the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31-32). [342]

FNPsalm 103:12 reads, As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Micah 7:19 (NLT), Once again You will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under Your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!

I love the comfort that the Lord gives us in Hebrews 8:12, For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. Brethren, WHEN GOD FORGIVES YOU HE FORGETS WHAT YOU’VE DONE. HE FORGETS ALL YOUR SINS. HE FORGETS EVERYTHING YOU’VE EVER DONE. HE DOESN’T REMEMBER ANY OF IT BECAUSE HE CHOOSES TO FORGET ALL OF IT. HE DOESN’T HOLD ANYTHING AGAINST YOU BECAUSE HE DOESN’T REMEMBER ANY OF IT!


FNCaution must be exercised not to misunderstand or misinterpret Jesus’ illustration of the two debtors. The illustration does not teach that we should sin a lot in order to be forgiven a lot and thereby love the Lord a lot. Jesus isn’t encouraging us to sin! Rather, the two debtors illustrate the relationship between forgiveness and love and the proportionality of the one to the other. [344]

FNJesus said in John 14:23, If a man love me, he will keep my words. He says essentially the same thing in 1 John 5:3, For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. Our love for God, then, is demonstrated or manifested in our obedience to Him.

A similar thing can be said about our love for one another. When we love one another we’re going to show it in acts of kindness and ministry in time of need. Jesus said in 1 John 3:16-18, Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (17) But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? (18) My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. [345]

FNJust because you don’t sin a lot and aren’t therefore forgiven a lot doesn’t mean you’re locked into not loving the Lord a lot. It doesn’t mean you can’t love the Lord as much as you want to love Him. Brethren, as a faithful, holy, righteous Christian, YOU CAN LOVE THE LORD AS MUCH AS YOU WANT TO LOVE HIM! GOD DOESN’T STOP YOU FROM LOVING HIM TO THE FULLEST EXTENT POSSIBLE!

Jesus’ illustration of the two debtors is strictly a comparative one. Those who end up loving the Lord more are those who’ve been forgiven more. This shouldn’t be a matter of envy to you who faithfully walk in obedience to the Lord because, as I’ve already said, nothing prevents you from loving the Lord as much as you want to love Him. Regardless of the fact that you may not have much need for repentance or forgiveness, when you live your life in recognition of your indebtedness to God and your utter dependency on Him for everything, you will love the Lord with every fiber of your being! [346]

FNSimon was wrong in his estimation about Jesus. But instead of chiding Simon for his wrong estimation of Jesus, Jesus instead chides Simon for his wrong estimation of this woman. You see, WE CAN THINK WE’RE SO RIGHT ABOUT A PERSON, BUT UNBEKNOWNST TO US, WE’RE AS WRONG AS WRONG CAN BE ABOUT THIS PERSON! That's a tough one to accept because we think we know a person inside out; we can't possibly be wrong about that person. Alas, it takes someone like Jesus--a person who's bold--to confront and correct our errant notions about people. You see, there are things about a person that we don’t know and it’s the things we don’t know—not the things that we know—that make us wrong about our views, judgments, or criticisms about a person.

Notice that Simon was quite critical and unmerciful towards this woman, but Jesus defends her! So what does this tell us? What can we learn from this? Brethren, BE CAREFUL WHO YOU CRITICIZE OR CONDEMN BECAUSE YOU JUST MIGHT BE SURPRISED TO FIND JESUS DEFENDING THE PERSON YOU’RE CRITICAL ABOUT! [346a]

FNNaturally, I’m not talking about the use of magic, rock-n-roll, and the like in ministering to sinners and babes; nor am I talking about Christians teaching converts wrong doctrine. I’m talking about criticizing Christians for not saying or teaching the things you would say or teach if you were in their shoes doing the ministering. [347]

FNJesus said in Luke 5:32, I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. While it is obvious from Jesus’ denunciations and rebukes that the Pharisees were not righteous, they, nevertheless, saw themselves as being righteous, hence, having no need of repentance or of Jesus’ ministry. [348]

FNJesus received two other invitations to eat in the house of a Pharisee, Luke 11:37 and 14:1. Altogether then, there are four recorded instances when Jesus ministered to Pharisees: Nicodemus in John 3, Simon in Luke 7, the Pharisee in Luke 11:37 and a chief Pharisee in Luke 14:1. [349]

FNMore than any other Gospel writer, Luke records the prominence of women in the life and ministry of our Lord. For example, he devotes considerable attention to Mary the mother of Jesus and Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist in the opening chapters of his Gospel account (Luke 1 & 2). Anna the prophetess, Joanna the wife of Chuza, and Susanna are mentioned by name only in this Gospel (Luke 2:36-38, 8:3, 24:10). Luke alone records the story of Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him teach while her sister Martha busied herself in the kitchen (Luke 10:38-42). The raising of the widow’s son (Luke 7:11-18) and the healing of the woman bowed with infirmity (Luke 13:10-17) are peculiar to Luke. He alone records the washing and anointing of Jesus’ feet by a woman who had recently given her life to the Lord (Luke 7:36-50). Among the Lord’s teachings, the parable of the persistent widow is found only in Luke (Luke 18:1-8). And among the many witnesses of the crucifixion, Luke alone records the fact that many women followed the Lord to Calvary, lamenting our Lord’s sufferings (Luke 23:27). Incidentally, the only words spoken by our Lord on the way to Calvary were recorded in Luke and He spoke these words to the women who bewailed Him (Luke 23:28-31). At a time and in a society where women were held in low esteem or regard, Jesus was interested in those whom society had no real interest in. His compassion and ministry to women reveals the universality of His love and the inclusiveness of the Kingdom: no one would be excluded from His ministry or the Kingdom on the basis of gender. Christ and the Gospel, my friends, are for everybody! [350]

FNOi par autou, translated here as ‘friends’, properly means ‘those from His side, or those with Him’. The reference is not to His twelve disciples, but to the larger group of people who followed Him. Some surmise that the oi par autou involved here were actually Jesus’ family or relatives, Mark 3:31-35. [351]

FNThis same word kratesai is used with respect to the arrest of John the Baptist (Matthew 14:3) and Jesus (Matthew 26:48). It also means to grab hold of, or seize, as in the instance of Paul (Acts 24:6) and of the dragon in Revelation 20:2. The idea of force, however, is not always present as the word can also be used in the gentler sense of taking someone by the hand, as in the case of Jairus’ daughter (Matthew 9:25) and Peter’s mother-in-law (Mark 1:31). The idea in the present context is that some of Jesus’ followers wanted to whisk Jesus away from the clamoring multitudes and force Him to spend some time in peace or quiet rest. We’re not told if Jesus allowed Himself to be carried away by His friends. I am not prepared to speculate either way, but it certainly would have been interesting to me to see if Jesus ever allowed people to whisk Him away, protect Him, or do what they felt was good for Him or in His best interests. [352]

FNExisteemi is most often translated to astonish or amaze, as whenever Jesus performed a miracle (Matthew 12:23, Mark 2:12) or whenever He astonished people with His wisdom (Luke 2:47). The word properly means ‘to put out of its place or out of wits’. In only two instances in the New Testament is the word used in the sense of being insane or out of one’s mind, here in Mark 3:21 and 2 Corinthians 5:13. These friends of Jesus wanted to whisk Him away from the pressing demands of the multitudes because they were concerned that Jesus’ busy ministry had already resulted in a mental breakdown. The concern was commendable, but brethren, our critics are already calling us crazy—we don’t need friends joining in the chorus! [353]

FNNo matter how busy you are for the Lord you still have to take care of your body! Remember. Your body is the Temple of the Lord and ought not be made the object of abuse (1 Corinthians 6:19). Your body needs rest and when it gets it your mind and spirit are also refreshed. There's a time when you have to stop, turn people down, and walk away for your own good. You're no good to people if your body and mind are wore out. [353a]

FNThat is, mute, speechless, or unable to talk. [353b]

FNAltogether the Pharisees accused Jesus three times of working by the power of Beelzebub: Matthew 9:32-34, 12:22-24, and Luke 11:14-15. The circumstances are similar in all three: they each involved the healing of a dumb demoniac. The similarity of the accounts can confuse one into thinking that they are all one and the same healing incident. There is, however, sufficient reason to regard these accounts as being three separate incidents. (a) The account in Luke transpires in Judea, while the other two in Matthew transpire in Galilee. (b) The fact that Matthew would record the same incident twice is highly unlikely. (c) The account in Matthew 9 involved a dumb demoniac, while the one in Matthew 12 involved a dumb and blind demoniac. [354]

FNThe Scribes were official copiers of Holy Scripture. They were the only ones authorized to make hand-written copies of sacred Scripture. Because of their official duty, they were also experts in the law. They knew the law better than anyone else did. Naturally, the opinion of these experts concerning Jesus’ identity would carry the most weight. But the experts were mistaken in their assessment of Jesus! It’s a perfect illustration, my friends, of how PERSONAL PREJUDICES AND ANIMOSITIES CAN ADVERSELY AFFECT THE JUDGMENTS OF THOSE WHO SUPPOSEDLY KNOW THE WORD BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE! While they knew the Word, their judgment was not based on the Word, but rather on their prejudices. They didn’t like Jesus because He wasn’t one of them, He was an outsider, He didn’t observe their laws or traditions, He was more popular than them, etc. As one learned in the Word, when your judgments are made on the basis of personal prejudices and not on the basis of the Word, people tend to equate your judgments with the Word, i.e. they must be Biblically-based. In this way, then, the Word of God is wrongly understood to support or endorse the prejudices of men. [355]

FNFrom Matthew 10:25 it is quite possible that when the Scribes accused Jesus of being possessed by Beelzebub they were, in effect, calling Him Beelzebub. In their eyes, then, Jesus was the Devil incarnate! [356]

FNA false accusation against Jesus has been made. So what does Jesus do? He defends Himself and responds to His critics’ accusations. Brethren, THERE’S A TIME AND PLACE TO RESPOND TO THE FALSE THINGS THAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT YOU. Biting your tongue, generally speaking, is a good thing; it keeps you from getting into trouble. But you can't always be silent! If you don't respond and make the truth known people will believe liars and deceivers and both you and the truth will be discredited and disbelieved. Sometimes you've got to get past your fear or "goodiness", get some guts, and speak up for the sake of the people and the truth. [356a]

FNWhile it is clear from Revelation 13 that Satan and his servants have the power to work miracles and signs, deliverance is clearly not one of these. Jesus here makes emphatic the truth that DELIVERANCE IS NOT SATAN’S ENTERPRISE, WORK, OR MINISTRY, BUT RATHER, A MINISTRY AND WORK OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD WORKING THROUGH HUMAN VESSELS. Our experience confirms this truth. Satan will, at times, feign deliverance by commanding the oppressing demon/s involved to temporarily quit manifesting, hence giving the impression that the oppressed individual has been delivered. Time, however, only goes to show that the supposedly freed individual was not freed at all. [358]

FNJesus' refutation of the Scribes' and Pharisees' accusation is a very graphic illustration to us that, like these skeptics, critics, and unbelievers, WE CAN SAY THINGS, BELIEVE THINGS, AND BELIEVE THAT WE’RE ABSOLUTELY, UNDOUBTEDLY RIGHT IN WHAT WE BELIEVE, THINK, AND SAY; BUT, UNBEKNOWNST TO US, WE'RE DEAD WRONG! Like a lot of skeptics today, the Pharisees and Scribes believed they were right about Jesus. But, to their unknowns, they were wrong. The point is, WE CAN BELIEVE WE’RE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT ABOUT SOMETHING AND YET BE SO TOTALLY WRONG! [358a]

FNA person who has the gift of prophecy may have, let’s say, a spirit of the fear of heights. Just because he’s prophesying doesn’t automatically mean that the spirit of the fear of heights is speaking through him. You’ve got to discern when the spirit is manifesting or speaking. YOU’LL RISK COMMITTING THE UNPARDONABLE SIN WHEN YOU FAIL TO DISTINGUISH THE WORKINGS OF THE SPIRIT FROM THE WORKINGS OF THE DEVIL. Keep what’s of the Spirit, of the Spirit; and what’s of the devil, of the devil. [359]

FNMatthew 27:18, Mark 15:10, see also Acts 17:4-5. ENVY UNCHECKED WILL DRIVE YOU TO LIES AND SIN. [360]

FNI believe that blasphemy spoken in ignorance or unbelief is forgivable. On a closely-related note, I believe that a sin committed in ignorance will not be imputed to you: you won't have to suffer the punishment of doing something that you didn't know was wrong. Make no mistake. Sin is sin even when it's done in ignorance. But the punishment for that sin is not imputed where ignorance is involved. Acts 17:30 (NLT) reads, God overlooked people's ignorance about these things in earlier times. Paul was speaking about the ignorance of worshipping false gods and man-made idols. The Athenians were involved in idolatry, but they did so ignorantly. God winked at their ignorance. That is, He overlooked it and suffered long with them because they didn’t have the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In writing of his past life as a blasphemer and persecutor of the church, Paul nevertheless obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief (1 Timothy 1:13). Two possibly-related texts are Romans 4:15, Where no law is, there is no transgression; and Romans 5:13, For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Some aspects of God’s law are written on all men’s hearts and conscience so that even in matters of ignorance of the law, sinners are still judged guilty by the law written in their hearts (Romans 2:12-15). [361a]

FNWhere possible, make things right with the person you falsely and wrongly accused and the persons you talked to about him or her. Make a personal and public apology. [361b]

FNBy our standards today, we can be reasonably sure in saying many of the Scribes and Pharisees had spirits of legalism, religiosity, false piety, spiritual pride, and deception. But it’s interesting to note that Jesus didn’t go around accusing the religious leaders of being oppressed! [362]

FNJesus calls the religious leaders a generation of vipers two times: the first is this instance here in Matthew 12:34 and the other is in Matthew 23:33. A viper is a type of poisonous snake. [363]

The fruit comes from the nature of the tree itself. And the tree’s nature, as far as people are concerned, is rooted in the heart. The heart is either good or bad. And OUR HEART DETERMINES WHAT KINDS OF THINGS WE'LL SAY. Our words come from the heart. They reveal what’s in our heart.

*If you’ve got a poddy mouth it’s because you’ve got a lot of pee and poo in your heart. You’ve filled with heart with unclean things.

*If you tell dirty jokes, sacrilegious jokes; it’s because you’ve filled your heart with dirt and you’ve not let Jesus stay in your heart to clean up your heart.


FNWe’ll be held accountable for every thing we say. Every word that we’ve ever spoken will be brought up on the day of judgment and we’ll have to explain to God why we said the things we did. IF YOU REMEMBER THIS, IT’LL HELP YOU CONTROL YOUR TONGUE.

*The word 'idle' means inactive or unemployed; it’s not being put to use or work. A lazy guy or couch potato is a pretty good word picture of what an idle person is. Idle words are words that aren’t working. That is, they aren’t doing any good, they aren’t accomplishing any good work. They aren’t doing anything good. IF YOUR WORDS AREN’T DOING ANY GOOD THEY’RE IDLE WORDS AND YOU’RE GOING TO ANSWER TO GOD FOR THEM.

Examples of idle words are gossip, rumors, speculations, put-downs, mockeries, slanders, defamation, etc. THE WORDS YOU SPEAK TO HURT OTHERS ALSO HURTS YOU.

So get in the habit of remembering and asking yourself this question before you say something: Is what I’m wanting to say, or planning to say, going to do any good? IF NOT, THEN YOU'RE PROBABLY BETTER AND WISER OFF NOT TO SAY IT. [364]

FNTo be 'justified' (dikaioo) means to render, treat, or regard someone as being righteous or just. It’s a judicial act whereby God declares you just and you are acquitted of all punishment due. 'Condemned' (katadikazo) is the exact opposite and it means to be judged and pronounced guilty. As the Scriptures show, each human being will be judged on the basis of his or her words AND his or her works (Revelation 20:12-13, 22:11-15).

Christians are saved people. But Christians will be judged by God just like everyone else. If you’re a true Christian with a changed and a saved heart, you’ll say good things and you’ll be justified. But if you’re an imposter Christian who hasn’t had a change of heart and a changed life, then you still have a bad heart, you’ll say bad things, and your bad heart, mouth, and words will get you in trouble on the day of judgment. Like I said above in the preceding footnote, THE WORDS YOU SPEAK TO HURT OTHERS ALSO HURTS YOU. [365]

FNThe religious leaders asked Jesus for a sign on four occasions: (1) this incident in Matthew 12 was the first; (2) the second in Matthew 16:1 with its parallel account in Mark 8:11; (3) the third in Luke 11:16; (4) and the last in John 2:18. Jesus in response never performed a miraculous wonder for them. The only sign He gave them was the sign of Jonah which typified His coming death and resurrection. [366]

FNDidaskale, meaning Teacher, Instructor, or Master. Their colleagues (and possibly they themselves) considered Jesus possessed by Beelzebub, yet they addressed Him in the honor given to any teacher of the law. [367]

FNThe Greek word ketos can be construed as a whale, but literally speaking, the word simply means a hugh fish. [368]

FNIs it wrong to ask the Lord for a sign? Before answering the question, let me say that the Lord gives signs at His pleasure and discretion. Throughout the Scriptures we find the Lord giving signs to His people. But He gives it unsolicited, that is, without them asking for signs.

However, there are a handful of instances in Scripture where people asked the Lord for a sign: (1) Gideon asked twice (Judges 6:17-22, 36-40); (2) Hezekiah asked once (2 Kings 20:8-11); (3) the religious leaders asked four times (Matthew 12:38, 16:1, Luke 11:16, John 2:18); (4) the disciples asked once (Matthew 24:3); and (5) the common Jews asked once (John 6:30).

Asking the Lord for a sign, then, is not a common request in Scripture. It’s not to be treated the same way, or with the same frequency, as claiming the promises of Scripture.

Now in answer to the question, Is it wrong to ask the Lord for a sign?, it depends on who’s asking.

*Gideon asked for a sign and the Lord gave it to him. The sign was meant to allay or dispel his fears and doubts concerning the Lord’s call upon his life (Judges 6:17-21, 36-40).

*Some ask for a sign sincerely out of ignorance, as in the case of the disciples and the Jews; and Jesus gave it to them (Matthew 24:3ff, John 6:30ff).

*In the present case, the religious leaders asked Jesus for a sign and Jesus gave it to them. It was not the sign they would have liked; it wasn’t a miracle or supernatural phenomenon. Rather, it was a word of prophecy relating to His coming death and resurrection.

Jesus gives signs to some who ask, but the sign isn’t always supernatural as it was in the case of Gideon. Many times, the sign Jesus gives is a prophecy (Matthew 12:40, 24:3ff, Luke 2:12) or just plain teaching and instruction (John 6:30-40).

If you’re wanting a sign in terms of a miracle, the condition of your heart has a lot to do with whether or not Jesus will give you one. As in the case of Gideon, God will help you overcome your fears and doubts if you’re willing to believe and obey Him (see Mark 9:24). Note in Judges 6:34-35 that Gideon had already taken steps towards obeying God before he asked the Lord for a sign. In Judges 7:9ff, God gave him further encouragement as to the outcome of the battle.

GOD, I AM SAYING, WANTS TO HELP YOU OVERCOME YOUR FEARS AND DOUBTS. IF YOU NEED OR WANT A SIGN TO HELP YOU BELIEVE, HE’LL GIVE YOU ONE. To be sure, He wants you to come to a point of faith where you’re willing to believe solely on the basis of His Word and not on the basis of His miracle (Matthew 8:8-10). But until you get to that point and to bring you to that point, Jesus will give you a sign.

However, when we come to the religious leaders in Matthew 12 who wanted a sign, Jesus calls them an evil and adulterous generation. Their hearts were evil (Matthew 12:33-35). They asked for a sign only to tempt or test Him (Matthew 16:1, Luke 11:16). In other words, they weren’t sincere. They did not believe the supernatural sign Jesus had just performed on the blind and dumb demoniac. And even with the sign that He gave them concerning His death and resurrection the religious leaders still didn’t believe or receive Him as the Messiah when the sign came to pass.

You see, the bottom line was, these religious leaders thought Jesus was oppressed and their opinion of Him did not change during the remainder of Jesus’ Earthly ministry (Matt. 9:32-34, Luke 11:14-15, John 7:20, 8:48-52, 10:20). A sign wouldn’t have changed their minds about Jesus being oppressed.


In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus said if you won’t receive or believe God’s Word, you wouldn’t believe even if you saw a miracle. Seeing a miracle won’t make a believer out of you (Luke 16:31). [369]

FNEven though He was asked, Jesus never gave them the sign they asked. The only sign He would give them is the sign of Jonah. He’s prophesying His own death here and it’s the first time that Jesus goes on record to let people know that He isn’t going to live and reign as the Messiah: He’s going to die instead. [369a]

FNJesus’ citing the story of Jonah in the whale shows that Jesus believed the story was real. According to Jesus, Jonah was swallowed up by a whale, literally, a huge fish, and he was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights.

Take note here that Jesus says He’s going to in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. Jesus is rather precise here. He’s going to be dead for three days and nights. If Jesus rose from the dead early Sunday morning, this would mean that Jesus was crucified either on a Wednesday or Thursday, and not on a Friday as most Christians believe. [369b]

FNPsalm 16:10, Psalm 22, Isaiah 53. See also Acts 26:22,23. [370]

FNThis queen is commonly identified as being the Queen of Sheba, 1 Kings 10:1. [371]

FNIf you’re sitting under a minister and lack confidence in him—that is, you doubt he’s anointed, hearing from the Lord, and speaking for the Lord; then either you’re right or you’re wrong. Either the minister is not anointed and hearing from the Lord; or else, the minister is hearing from the Lord and you’re the one with the problem of a bad heart or attitude. [372]

Seek the Lord, brethren, and examine your heart. If you’re wrong, be courageous and honest enough to admit it and take care of it. Change what needs to be changed and continue to sit under the minister.

However, if, in the honesty of your heart, you believe the minister has lost the anointing and your confidence; then leave the church and don’t continue to sit under that minister. For you to remain there would only create trouble for yourself, the minister, and the church. In all things, don’t be hasty or rash in your decisions. Proceed slowly, take your time, and precede any action you take with much prayer and with the mind of the Lord. [372]

FNThis portion of Scripture, along with Luke 11:24-26, is the only place in Scripture where Jesus tells us what actually happens to a demon when it’s been cast out of a person. [372a]

FNSee Isaiah 13:21, 34:14, Revelation 18:2. [372b]

FNThe word rest means what it means. For humans, rest is a ceasing from labor, time off from work, a time given to sleep, leisure, recreation, or relaxation. [372c]

Now you would think that out in the desert, where there’s nothing to do and where you have all the time in the world to sit back, relax, and rest, that a demon would find rest in the desert. But the demon doesn’t find rest in the desert!

A demon finds rest in inhabiting or possessing a human being (verse 44) and making that person subservient to his command. Rest for a demon is working. It’s not being inactive or unproductive: it’s the exact opposite. Rest for a demon is to keep busy inside a person, keeping that person afflicted or else making that person do sinful, wicked things. [372c]

FNRest for a demon is not found in desert places: it’s found in people. So he returns to the person he was cast out of and seeks to get back into him once again. He can’t because the person who’s now delivered has swept and cleaned his house. House refers to the person’s entire being—body, soul, and spirit. A person cleans house when he keeps his body free from sin, such as an enslavement to drugs and alcohol. A clean spirit is when we crucify the human, fleshly nature and put on the Spirit of Christ. It’s when we allow the Spirit to control our thoughts, our desires, our interests, our ambitions, our whole life. When we clean our soul we’re letting the blood of Christ wash us clean from all our sins and we let the Spirit of righteousness guide our steps in paths of righteousness. A person who’s swept and garnished his house is a person who’s walking close with the Lord, who’s forsaking sin, and following Christ in a life of holiness and purity. You’re staying away from sin, giving up the bad habits and sin that got you oppressed in the first place, by not hanging around with people who are a bad influence on you; by staying close to God, the church, and surrounding yourself with Christian friends and godly influences, by doing good things and living a clean life, etc.

WHEN YOU’RE WALKING CLOSE WITH THE LORD THERE’S NO WAY A DEMON CAN POSSESS YOU. A demon doesn’t want to live in a clean house! A demon’s house has got to be dirty or unclean—that’s why in the New Testament a demon or devil is always referred to as being an unclean spirit. [372d]

FNA clean house sends a demon away. So what does the demon do? Does he give up and go try to possess someone else? No way! He has an affinity for you because he knows you, he likes you, he knows how to control you, he knows your weaknesses. He wants you back for himself! So the expelled demon goes off and gets seven other demons who are worse and more wicked than himself. [372e]

Friend, there are differing levels of wickedness among demons. Some demons aren’t as bad as others. Some are terribly more wicked and powerful than others. This explains why some sinners or possessed people are more wicked than others. The wickeder the demon, the wickeder the demoniac, the wickeder the sin or lifestyle.

In speaking about demon possession Jesus tells us about the fact and reality of demon possession. We live in a modern world where things supernatural are explained away: there’s no God and there’s no such thing as demons or a spirit world. Many people think that people today can’t be possessed by demons. Were the Ninevites real? Was the Queen of the South real? So demon possession is real. The very fact that Jesus would talk about it is proof that He believes it’s real.

There are demons on this earth. The fact that Jesus went throughout Palestine casting demons out of people is proof that there are demons on this earth. The devil walks about looking for people to devour (1 Peter 5:8). When God questioned him in Job 1:7 and asked, Whenst comest thou? Satan answered, I’ve been going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it. In Revelation 18:2, when Babylon is destroyed that desolate city will become the habitation of devils and every foul spirit.

I personally find it so inconceivable and incredulous that people would reject the word of Jesus and believe the word of a man instead. Is any man smarter than the Divine Son of God?

Demon possession explains why this world is as entrenched in wickedness as it is. It explains why people behave and do things that are not human, normal, or right; why they do things that are demonic. [372e]

FNThese eight demons come back to the delivered person and enter him. The demoniac who’s been delivered becomes oppressed again. [372f]

The Lord makes it sound as if demons can overpower us and oppress or possess us against our will. But that’s not the case. Demons can’t enter and possess us against our will. James 4:7 assures us that if we resist the devil he will flee from us. WE CAN’T BE OPPRESSED OR POSSESSED AGAINST OUR WILL. Demons can only enter and possess us if and when we let them. If we keep them out, they’ll stay out. If we let them in, then they’ll come in and stay in. But demons can’t come in until or unless we allow them in. [372f]

FNHow do these eight demons enter a person who’s been delivered? (1) BY TEMPTATION. These demons will start talking to you and tempting you. Since there are eight demons now instead of just the one, these temptations will be more appealing; they’ll be stronger and more irresistible. If you don’t resist these devils and their temptations, you’ll end up giving in the temptation for more sex, more booze, more drugs, more porno, more money, or whatever it is you want more than God. When you give in to the devils you’re letting them back into your life, you’re relinquishing control to them, and they will come in and possess you. [372g]

(2) BY BECOMING WEARY AND CRITICAL OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. When you decide that you’ve had enough of clean living and want to enjoy the dirty life that you enjoyed with the devil, when you go back to the sin, habit, or addiction that Jesus saved you from; you are giving the devils the key to your house and they’ll enter in and control some portion of your life, affections, interests, thoughts, desires, etc.

If you get possessed again after you’ve been set free, you’re a lot worse off than before. That’s because now you’re dealing with eight demons instead of just one, and seven of these demons are a lot more wicked and stronger than the one demon that you were possessed with at the start. You’re not only worse off than before: but getting set free will be quite a bit more difficult because now you’ve got to fight against eight demons instead of only one. It’s not impossible, but it is difficult.


The answer isn’t to stay oppressed. The answer is to come to a place of repentance where you hate the sin that you love now; where you want to be free and not ever be in bondage again; where you’re willing to do whatever you have to do to get set free. When you get to that point, then that’s the time to seek deliverance [372g]

FNJesus closes his conversation with these Scribes and Pharisees with these words in Matthew 12:45, Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation. He already said in v. 39 that this was a wicked and adulterous generation. That was over two thousand years before the advent of mass media—radio, television, movies, DVD’s, internet, instant video streaming, porn rags, the rebellious lyrics of Rock-n-Roll and hip hop, the gay movement, gay marriage, abortion, mass genocide and the extermination of tens of thousands of people just because they belong to a certain race, tribe or sect. I’m talking about a time when sin is no longer hidden in a closet, where sinners don’t cringe in fear for being discovered, where sinners are bold, public, and loud, unafraid, and unashamed of their perversities. I’m talking about a generation where laws are being enacted to legitimize or legalize the sins that the Bible condemns and that will bring sinners to hell. I’m talking about a time when taking a stand for truth and righteousness will soon land you in prison and death row. I’m talking about a time when men and women were covered head to toe and there wasn’t a whole lot of skin to show; and now there’s so much skin exposed, body parts hanging out, that we’ve lost a sense of human decency and modesty.

If that generation of Jews over two thousand years ago was a wicked, evil, and adulterous generation bound for hell; how much more is America and the rest of the world today? [372h]

FNIn not rushing out immediately to see His family Jesus doesn’t mean any disrespect here. We know that in His last dying moments He made provision for the care of His mother (John 19:26-27). So we know that He continued to love and care for His mother up till His dying day. [373a]

As far as His brothers were concerned, they didn’t believe in Jesus during the early phases of Jesus' ministry (John 7:3-5). They eventually became believers. In fact, by the time of Jesus’ resurrection James His brother was, or became, a believer. He then went on to become the leader of the Jerusalem Church! See Acts 12:17, 15:13, 21:18, I Corinthians 15:7, Galatians 1:19, 2:9. [373a]

FNYOU CAN’T OBEY GOD UNLESS YOU KNOW WHAT GOD’S WILL IS. I think all of us often assume we know God’s will. But unless we’ve prayed about it and heard from God, we don’t know what God’s will is. So praying and learning God’s will is just one half of the equation. [373b]

The other half is, once you know God’s will, are you going to do it? That’s hard—especially when you’ve got your mind set on doing what you want to do. DYING IS NEVER EASY OR PAINLESS. I’m talking about the cross and crucifying self, selfish interests, selfish desires, selfish will. It’s a hard thing to do that many people don’t want to do it. And when they do it, they do it screaming because it’s painful to give up your way to do it God’s way. Yet, this is exactly what God would have all of us do. In Luke 14:27 Jesus plainly tells us, And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple. IF YOU'RE NOT CRUCIFYING SELF,IF SELF ISN'T DYING, JESUS SAYS YOU CAN’T BE HIS DISCIPLE.

What’s the cross for? The cross kills everyone who’s on it. No one comes down from the cross alive. When you get hung on the cross you’re hung until you’re dead.

Would you mind terribly if I talked to you about a passage of Scripture that I couldn't understand for the longest time? Paul tells us in Galatians 5:24, They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh and it affections and lusts.

*This past tense use of crucifixion threw me off for the longest time because, if it was up to me, I would have written, They that are Christ’s will crucify the flesh; or They that are Christ's are going to crucify the flesh. But putting it this way makes crucifixion a future thing. Which is to say, they aren’t crucifying the flesh right now.

*Then I got to thinking, how about saying it like this: They that are Christ’s are crucifying the flesh. Okay. That’s gobs better. Christians are, right now, crucifying the flesh. What can possibly be wrong with that? Well, that’s not what Paul wrote. The wrong thing about making crucifixion present, on-going, is this: it’s not a done deal. You’re not done crucifying yet. You’re doing it right now, but you aren’t dead yet. It’s possible to be on the cross right now. But you can still come down from the cross. You can still cut it short so that you’re not completely dead.

Then I understood why Paul wrote have crucified the flesh. For true believers, they’ve done it. They’ve not only crucified the flesh: they’ve put it to death. They’ve finished the job. God’s telling us, CHRISTIANS ARE THOSE WHO CRUCIFY THEIR FLESH UNTIL THEY'RE DEAD. They don’t stop crucifying the flesh when it gets too hard or too painful or too personal. They just keep staying on the cross until that part of the flesh is dead and God has His way. That’s the mark of a true Christian. That’s how you tell if you are Christ’s. [373b]

FNApparently, the Scribes’ and Pharisees’ blasphemous accusation against Jesus in the matter of deliverance didn’t adversely affect His popularity. Multitudes of people continued to flock to Him. [373c]

FNJesus didn’t invent parables, nor was He the first person to use them. Parables are found in the Old Testament, for example, Nathan’s parable of the ewe lamb (2 Samuel 12:1-7) and Isaiah’s vineyard (Isaiah 5:1-7). Incidentally, parables are nowhere else found in the New Testament except in the Gospel accounts. [373]

FNThe story can vary in length. For example, the shortest parable is that of the hidden treasure which consists of only one verse. The longest parable is that of the prodigal son, consisting of twenty-two verses. Sometimes, a parable doesn’t even have to be a story or illustration. [374]

(1) It could simply a wise saying or proverb. For example, in Luke 4:23 the proverb Physician, heal thyself, is the Greek parabole. In other words, Jesus cited a parable which was nothing more than a short proverb. Another parable that we ourselves would consider a proverb is Luke 6:39, the blind cannot lead the blind.

(2) The only other use of parabole in the New Testament is found in Hebrews 9:9 and 11:19. In both instances, the parable is a figure or type. The ministry of the High Priest in the Holy of Holies typifies the redemptive ministry of Christ and the sparing of Isaac on the altar of Moriah typifies the resurrection from the dead. [374]

FNThe two principal grains that were planted in Israel were wheat and barley. When planting a field the field would sometimes be plowed before the seeds were sown; sometimes, it was plowed afterwards. Seeds were sown in one or two ways. The farmer would carry the seed bag over his shoulders and sow the seeds by hand. Or, the seed bag would be mounted on an ox, or else in an ox-drawn cart. Tiny holes were punched on the bottom of the bag or cart, and as the ox moved along the seeds would thus be sown. [374a]

FNYou can tell wheat and tares apart when they start going to seed. The wheat droops while the tares remain perfectly erect. Wheat grains are brown, while tares are black. [374b]

FNAs we'll soon seen, Jesus explains this parable in terms of the coming judgment when sinners and saints will be separated forever and judged, or rewarded, for their works. I’d like to look at this parable from another perspective, that is, the perspective of the present times in which we live, surrounded by evil men. While we would like to shelter ourselves, our loved ones, and our newly-born brethren in Christ from the evil influences of the world, this is not totally, nor presently, possible because there’ll always be tares by our side as long as we’re on this Earth. There are things we can do to protect ourselves, spiritually speaking. But until judgment comes we live in the midst of evil. The encouraging thing in this parable is, even though we live in the midst of tares, it’s nevertheless possible to grow as wheat and produce the fruit of wheat in our lives! LIVING AMONG UNREGENERATES, BRETHREN, DOESN’T HAVE TO STYMIE OR PREVENT US FROM LIVING A FRUITFUL, CHRISTIAN, KIND OF LIFE. It doesn’t mean we can’t be good Christians as long as we’re surrounded by evil! Remember this truth when you start fretting about your children and wonder how they’ll turn out in life. Read this parable, commit your children to the Lord’s care, believe, and pray that your children, like wheat, can remain as wheat and be fruitful as wheat even though they’re surrounded by the evil tares of this world. [374c]

FNOne measure, or seah, is about one peck or one fourth of a bushel. Three measures equals one Jewish ephah and corresponds to three pecks or three-fourths of a bushel. [375a]

FNThough the writer of this psalm was a psalmist, Asaph is referred to in 2 Chronicles 29:30 as a seer or prophet. [375b]

FNPaul speaks about a mystery (Greek musterion) several times in his Epistles. For example, Ephesians 3:3,6, Romans 16:25, 1 Corinthians 2:7, and Colossians 1:26, among others. In the Gospel narrative at hand, this is the only time and place in the Gospel accounts where the word 'mystery' is used. [375c]

FN See 1 Corinthians 5:12-13, Colossians 4:5, 1 Thessalonians 4:12, 1 Timothy 3:7. [375d]

FNThe reason why people can’t see, hear, or understand is because their heart has waxed gross. Literally, their heart has become fat. The picture here is of a person who’s continually eating, or who eats a lot, and has become fat and full. Too full, in fact, that he can’t eat anymore. He’s no longer hungry. His stomach literally has no room for any more food. The reason why spiritually-obese unbelievers can’t receive or understand what Jesus is telling them is because they’ve eaten so much of the world's philosophies and beliefs that they’re no longer hungry for anything that Jesus has to tell them. They’ve gorged themselves on what unbelieving men have to say that they're just not interested in what God has to say to them. [376a]

FNJesus goes on to say that these people’s ears are dull of hearing. Literally, they heard heavily with their ears. It’s a Jewish way of saying that a person has become hard of hearing. Now when you think of a person who’s hard of hearing the first thing you think of is a disease of old age or an injury or deformity that’s damaged the ear drum and made it hard for a person to hear anything. But there’s another cause of deafness and that’s when a person stuffs their ears with cotton, or puts their hands over their ears, so that they don’t hear. When a person does this it means, it shows, that they don’t want to hear what you have to say. It’s a willful shutting of the ears that, in a sense, renders them deaf or hard of hearing. This is the picture that Jesus and the prophet Isaiah had in mind. The people have come to a point where they just don’t want to hear what Jesus has to say. [376b]

FNJesus continues and says, their eyes they have closed. Notice who's doing the closing. This is a willful and deliberate shutting of the eyes: a refusal to see. The reason why those who are spiritually blind can’t receive, understand, hear, or understand is not because God’s talking over their heads and going beyond their level of comprehension. That’s not the case at all. The reason why they can’t understand is because they’ve willfully decided they’re not going to see, hear, understand, or receive anything Jesus is going to tell them. The spiritually blind are blind because of self-inflicted reasons. [376c]

FNWhen a person willfully hardens his or her heart the Lord in response hardens their heart. In theology, this act of God is called judicial hardening. God hardens people's heart so that they can't be saved. Make no mistake here. God hardens a person's heart, and thereby prevents him or her from believing and being saved, only after a person hardens his or her heart on a continual basis and decides they don't ever want to have anything to do with God. God doesn't initiate the hardening. The person does. Over a period of time, when a person continually resists God and hardens his or her heart to Him, God steps in and, in essence, says "Enough is enough." He hardens their heart and, through their own choosing, their eternal loss is irremediable. They will not ever be saved. Friends and brethren, take God and His Word seriously. Don’t lose the desire to hear God’s Word! If you’ve lost it, get it back! Remember what Jesus said in verse 12. What little you have will be taken away from you if you don’t make an effort to keep it. THERE'LL COME A TIME WHEN GOD WON'T GIVE YOU WHAT YOU DON'T WANT, i.e. the Word and the understanding of that Word. Hold on to the Word, my friends, because your life depends on it!

With the people’s hardening of their hearts to Jesus’ message and His consequent teaching in parables, we have here the beginning of the people’s defection from Jesus. They continued to flock to Him for His miracles. They maintained high Messianic, political hopes in Him. But as far as His teaching was concerned, they were beginning to shut their ears to it and the defection is not visibly seen until after Jesus teaches His extended discourse on the Bread of Life (John 6). When we get to that discourse I’ll tell you why Jesus had to lose favor and following amongst the multitudes. You would think it vastly important for Jesus to hold on to the multitudes and not make things so hard or difficult for them to understand and receive what He had to say. Not so. Stay tuned. [376]

FNDo you know why we know what this parable means? Because the disciples asked Jesus what it meant and Jesus explained it to them. Brethren, IT’S OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO ASK THE LORD WHEN WE DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT HE’S SAYING. He’ll explain it and help us understand. But we’ve got to ask (James 1:5). [376e]

FNAll things that offend means anything that causes someone to stumble and fall; an impediment or cause of ruin or destruction. Friend, does your behavior, lifestyle, and beliefs cause God's people to stumble? You may not be afraid of having a ruinous effect on Christians because you don't see it as ruinous and because God isn't striking you dead on the spot right now. Be forewarned that judgment day is coming and God will kick you out of His Kingdom. WHEN YOU TAMPER WITH GOD'S PEOPLE YOU TAMPER WITH GOD AND HE WILL MAKE SURE YOU PAY DEARLY FOR IT. Be afraid of God and repent. [377]

Here are some ways you can cause other people to stumble and fall.

(1) Being legalistic and putting too many burdens on the people that they can’t possibly follow the Lord, so, as a consequence, they turn away from the Lord (Matthew 23).

(2) Being indiscriminate in your exercise of Christian liberty (1 Corinthians 8); they copy your freedoms and because their spiritually immature or weak, they fall back into sin or carnality.

(3) Being hard, unmerciful, and intolerant of others so that you drive them away from the church or the Lord.

(4) Being self-righteous, proud, or hypocritical whereby people see it in you and don’t want to be a Christian because they don’t want to be like you.

(5) Committing a serious sin, or persisting in sin, thereby making the church and the Gospel a mockery in the sight of many; and the such like.

While we can’t take total responsibility or blame for the decisions that other people make with respect to turning away from the Lord, the parable of the tares in part shows us that WE’LL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE AND ANSWERABLE IN SOME WAY TO THE LORD FOR THE NEGATIVE IMPACT WE’VE HAD ON PEOPLE. If you’ve been a cause of other people stumbling, repent to the Lord, ask forgiveness of them wherever possible, put the sin under the blood and go on. Whereas once you caused God's people to stumble and sin, help them become the good, strong Christians they were meant to be. [377]

FNThem which do iniquity doesn't only refer to those who sin on a continual basis, but it also refers to those who treat God's people badly. This can apply to persecutors and haters of Christians. And it can also apply to apathetic people who turn a blind eye and don't help God's people in need. This truth about how we treat people having a direct impact on where we spend eternity is more fully elaborated on in the parable of the sheep and goats, Matthew 25:31-46. [378]

FNWe know that in Heaven there will be no sun (Revelation 21:23 and 22:5). God and His glory will lighten the Kingdom. Here on the earth there are days when the sun in the sky is just so glorious and heartwarming. After days of rain. Cloudy, stormy days. Frigid days. Days cooped up in the house or in bed. We go outdoors after these kinds of days and, my oh my, how good and glorious it is to be in the sunlight again! Imagine God feeling as happy and exuberant as this when He sees His children shining as suns in His Kingdom. It shouldn't be a cause of pride. But it is humbling and gratifying to know that one of our rewards will be, figuratively speaking, shining as suns in God's presence and bringing Him such delight. Wow! What an awesome honor to put a smile on His face. [378a]

FNAlone with His disciples in a house, Jesus explained the parables of the sower and the tares to help them understand what these parables meant. He went on to tell them four more parables that the multitudes were not privy to: the parable of the hidden treasure, the pearl of great price, the drag net, and the instructed scribe. These four parables are found only in the Book of Matthew. [378b]

FNIn a land often invaded, conquered, and dispossessed, people would many times hide their riches by burying them in the ground in sealed earthen jars. Later, during more stables times, they, or else their descendants, would return to retrieve the family's wealth. [378c]

FNA tradesman or business man, such as a jeweller. [378d]

FNGoodly, that is the finest, most beautiful, and valuable pearls. Pearls are valuated or appraised according to their size, shape, color, surface quality, and luster. Big, perfectly round, smooth, and magnificently iridescent pearls are the most valuable and expensive. During Biblical times pearls were more a Gentile commodity rather than a Jewish one. Only the rich and royalty could afford them. Affluent women of the time would flaunt their beauty and their wealth by, among other things, showing off their pearls. [378e]

FNSo what must we do to be saved? Believe in Jesus (John 3:16, Romans 10:9-11), turn away from your sins (Luke 13:3, Acts 2:38), and follow Him (Luke 9:23, John 12:26). [378f]

FNThat is, separate. [378g]

FNGrating or grinding one's teeth. The gnashing of teeth is uniformly used throughout both the Old and New Testaments as an expression of anger or rage. Interestingly enough, Jesus is the only One in the New Testament who uses the phrase. It's found predominantly in the parables that relate to the judgment of the wicked. Matthew 8:12, 13:42, 13:50, 22:13, 24:51, 25:30, Luke 13:28. [378h]

FNThere were two basic kinds of fishing nets used during Biblical times. The first kind, an amphiblestron, was a casting net (Matthew 4:18). It was a small enough net that one person could handle all by himself. The fisherman would stand in shallow waters (or on a board) and throw the weighted net over his shoulder in such a way as to form a large circle when it hits the water. He would then retrieve the net with an attached line. The other kind of net, the sagene, was a drag net. This was a humongous net that had both floats and weights on it. The floats would keep one side of the net on the water's surface, while the other side, with weights, would sink towards the bottom. Several men would lower the net into the waters and the boat would drag the net along for a distance until the weight of the catch signalled the fishermen that it was time to draw in the net. This is the kind of net that's used in the parable. It's the only time in the New Testament where this net is mentioned. [378i]

FNHeaven's angels figure prominently in the end time judgments that will befall mankind at the end of this world. There are too many references for me to point out to you, so you'll just have to read the entire Book of Revelation for yourself. In a nutshell, by God's orders, the angels preserve the righteous and they inflict horrendous punishment and pain on the wicked. [378j]

FNJesus closes out this segment of His parabolic teaching by asking His disciples if they understood everything He taught them. This is one mark of a great teacher. Too often, as teachers, we assume our pupils understand what we've taught them; we understand what we said, therefore we assume they understand it too. Unfortunately, the assumption is not true. A good teacher will ask questions and make sure that everyone understands what was taught. [378k]

FNApparently, after Jesus explained the first two parables to His disciples they didn't have any problems understanding the rest of His parables. It's pretty much true in our life as well: once we understand a few things we learn to understand more things. JESUS GIVES UNDERSTANDING TO THOSE WHO SEEK IT AND WANT IT. [378L]

FNThe Gospel accounts record two storms at sea. In this first storm, Jesus slept and was subsequently awakened by the disciples, whereupon He rebuked the storm and there was an immediate calm. In the second storm, Jesus walked on the water and as soon as He stepped into the boat the troubled sea was made calm, Matthew 14:24-33 and parallels. In this first storm at sea, according to Matthew’s account, Jesus rebuked the disciples first and then the storm; while in Mark and Luke the order is reversed. [379]

FNIt had been a long day for Jesus. It began with the healing of a blind and dumb demoniac, followed by a confrontation with the Pharisees and Scribes concerning the unpardonable sin. Jesus then left the house and went to the seaside where He taught a multitude of people in parables. Alone with His disciples once again in the house, He expounded to them the meaning of the parables of the sower and the tares. Finally, when evening came, Jesus decided to go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. [380]

FNThe Sea of Galilee is known by several names: Sea of Chinnereth (Numbers 34:11) or Chinneroth (Joshua 12:3) from the Hebrew word kinneret, describing the harp-shaped outline of the Sea. It is also known as the Sea of Tiberias (John 6:1) and the Lake of Gennesaret (Luke 5:1). Located about sixty miles north of Jerusalem, the sea was about fourteen miles long and seven miles at its widest point. Its circumference measured about thirty-two miles and its depth varied between 80 and 160 feet deep. The surface of the sea was about 680 to 695 feet below the Mediterranean sea level. To the north, the sea was surrounded by the mountains of Upper Galilee which towered about 4000 feet above sea level. Hills on the eastern and western shores ascended to about 2000 feet above sea level. The over-all topography of the region lent itself to fierce and sudden storms. Jesus’ destination on this particular night was the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, the Decapolis. [381]

FNIt appears that Jesus went with only the clothes on His back. In other words, no provisions or baggage were brought along, giving indication that the trip across the lake was meant to be a short one. As it turned out, Jesus sailed back to Capernaum after spending only a short time on the eastern shore. Why did Jesus want to go to the Decapolis region of the Sea? Well, in light of what transpired there, it’s obvious that Jesus wanted to go there to deliver a particular demoniac. He was needed there. Understood in this light, it’s easy to understand the reason for the trial, or storm at sea: the storm was Satan’s attempt to stop Jesus from getting to the demoniac! Others believe Jesus went there in order to get away from the multitudes and get some sleep and rest. Additionally, in the process of making that short trip it gave the disciples an opportunity to be tested in their faith and with that test they got a further revelation of what kind of Man Jesus was. [382]

FNIn His sleeping we see Jesus’ humanity. Angels and God don’t sleep. [383]

FNIt’s interesting to note that the word rebuked (epitimao) is the same word Jesus used when He rebuked demons. This raises a question. Was Jesus talking to just the wind and sea? Or was He talking to demonic forces that were at work, forming and manipulating the wind storm? In answer, there are natural laws and forces at work in this world that are not demonic in themselves; the winds and storms aren’t demons! But there are times when the forces of nature can be controlled or manipulated by the Devil and his demonic hosts. The Devil is the prince of the power of the air. The atmosphere is part of the domain that he rules over (Ephesians 2:2). Do you remember the story of Job? When Satan got permission from God to test Job, do you know what he did? He caused fire to come down from Heaven and consume Job’s sheep and servants; he caused a wind storm to blow upon his son’s house, destroying the house and killing his sons (Job 1:16, 19). Satan, I’m saying, controls or manipulates the forces of nature, at times, in order to accomplish his evil intents and works. [384]

FNThe miracle was really two-fold: not only did the winds stop blowing, but there was also complete calm on the water. Normally, after a storm subsides and the winds die down the waters continue to be turbulent for a while. [385]

FNIt is clear from the disciples’ amazement that they did not yet have a full revelation of who Jesus was or what kind of Man He was. Jesus’ power over the wind and sea was a revelation to them and the revelation caused them to fear greatly (phobon megan, fear a great fear, Mark 4:40). Remember, up to this point in history, no man had ever calmed a storm. The Jews had no Old Testament Scripture, precedent, or parallels for such a feat. To calm a storm was simply unthinkable! When they saw Jesus do it they became afraid again because they saw an aspect of Jesus and His power that they had never seen before. Clearly now, Jesus was no ordinary Man. In the calming of the second storm at sea recorded in Matthew 14:33, the disciples acknowledged, Truly thou art the Son of God. In other words, in seeing Jesus’ power over nature the disciples concluded He had to be Divinity in the flesh. Although the trial itself was fraught with fear and the threat of death, something good came out of it: the disciples got a revelation of Jesus. Brethren, there are trials in life where God’s purpose or intent is to give you a revelation of who He really is—a revelation of His power or love for you. Don’t complain or despise your trials! You just might see God in a way you’ve never seen Him before. [386]

FNThat is, to be in danger. Every moment that passed their lives were in danger. The peril of sinking, or drowning, was very real. The disciples were staring death in the face and they were afraid. [386a]

FNWhen you’re critical of God or resentful toward Him because of the bad things that are happening to you, your criticisms and complaints are indicative of your unbelief. Brethren, when you find yourself complaining about why you have to go through this trial at this time, or find yourself questioning God’s love and wisdom, look first for unbelief and deal with it. Believe me, it’s there. [387]

FNSome understand Jesus’ rebuke of His disciples as Him expecting them to calm the storm themselves: Why are you so faithless? Why didn’t you calm the storm yourselves? You could have done it if you had faith! Where’s your faith? In other words, the disciples’ lack of faith was manifested in their failure to calm the storm.

However, it should be remembered that this was the first time the disciples faced a storm at sea—at least, the first storm since they became full-time followers of Christ. Up until this time, they’ve never witnessed Jesus calm a storm. They didn’t have a precedent or an idea that such a thing could be done. In light of their amazement over Jesus’ power to calm the storm, it’s likely that when the disciples went to wake Jesus up they didn’t believe Jesus could do anything about the storm. They’ve never seen Him or anyone else do it! Hence, it’s somewhat unreasonable to expect the disciples to do something they didn’t know they could do. A rebuke would have been inappropriate.

In all fairness, however, it should be noted that greatness of faith doesn’t need a historical precedent or prior experience in order to believe, receive, or do the impossible. Naaman had no historical precedent for getting healed in the Jordan. The Syro-Phoenician woman had no Scripture for the healing of her daughter, a Gentile who stood outside the commonwealth of Israel. The Roman centurion didn’t copy anyone when he told Jesus to simply speak the word. And the woman with the issue of blood didn’t do what she did because she saw or heard someone else do the same thing. Do you see what I mean? These people had no historical precedent or prior experience, yet they believed, they acted in faith, and they received the answer to their prayer. In much the same way, had the disciples been spiritually alert, they could have calmed the storm themselves through the use of faith without having, or depending on, past precedent or experience to guide them. [388]

FNWhat we say with respect to the rebuke of the brethren we say as well to their sympathy. Friends, the sympathy of the brethren ought not to be understood by you as their approval for your fear and lack of faith; you shouldn’t think they’re agreeing with what you did because you were fearful and afraid. You see, one of the things a fearful, faithless person looks for is approval: he wants other people to understand why he did what he did and he wants them to approve of it—after all, he had good reason to be afraid. Sin, fear, and faithlessness ought never be approved or condoned. We feel for you, brethren. But don’t think that our sympathy means we agree with what you did. Sympathy doesn’t mean approval of sin.[389]

FNThe Bible presents a balanced teaching on life and death. Unless we’re faithful and alive when Jesus comes to rapture His saints out of this earth, we’re all destined to die (Hebrews 9:27). Clearly, WHILE DEATH IS PROMISED, PREMATURE DEATH BY SICKNESS OR ACCIDENT IS NOT! [390]

FNAccording to the Received Text from which the KJV is translated, Jesus came into the country of the Gergesenes in Matthew’s account. Other manuscripts of the same account, however, cite the country of the Gadarenes; while others yet, the Gerasenes. In both Mark’s and Luke’s account from the Received Text, Jesus came into the country of the Gadarenes, while other manuscripts read Gerasenes; others, Gergesenes.

Now Gadara, Gerasa, and Gergesa are three different cities. Gadara was situated about 6 miles SE of the southern end of the Sea of Galilee; Gerasa, about 35 miles SE; and Gergesa, midway on the eastern shore of the Sea. Hence, it would appear that the Gospel writers contradict each other in their placement of this event.

However, the contradiction disappears when you remember that the writers did not say Jesus came into these cities, but only that He came into the general vicinity of these cities. It is clear from the Gospel texts that this incident took place in the country and not in the actual city itself. Archeologists agree that the country regions of Gadara and Gerasa, or Gadara and Gergesa, may have indeed overlapped, thus explaining the differences between the Gospel writers. Considering the topography of the land and the Biblical text, it appears that the country region of Gergesa is the site best suited for this incident with the demoniac. Steep hills come down to the shoreline and there are a number of caves and hewn tombs on the mountainside where the demoniac took residence.

For our purposes, the Gadarene or Gergesene demoniacs are two terms used interchangeably for the same incident of deliverance. Matthew cites two demoniacs, while Mark and Luke record Jesus’ conversation with only one of them who appears to have been the more powerful or oppressed of the two. Both, however, were delivered. [391]

FNThis is the first-recorded time that Jesus set sail across the Sea of Galilee to this particular region. The towns on the eastern shore of the Sea were predominantly Gentile in population, as evidenced by the swine in the region. Jews don’t raise or eat swine. These demoniacs may well have been Gentiles. If so, they are one of only a privileged handful of Gentiles who were recipients of Jesus’ miracles. [392]

FNDemons, more than any other group of people or personages in the Bible, recognized the true identity of Jesus and readily acknowledged His Divinity (Mark 1:24, 3:11, Luke 4:41). While demons are, by nature, rebellious against our Lord, it’s interesting to note that they don’t manifest their rebellion in His presence! They know better! When they stand before Him, they are compelled to prostrate themselves before Him, acknowledge Him, and submit themselves to His command. [393]

FNThe word torment means to torture or cause great pain. It’s tormenting for a demon not to be inhabiting or oppressing a human being. Do you wonder why demons want to oppress you? Because oppression is their relief from torture! Like humans, demons don’t like being tortured. They know, however, that they will spend eternity being tortured. And this is something that they don’t look forward to (Matthew 8:29). [394]

FNThe word unclean literally means what it means: impure, lewd, foul. It can refer to sexual uncleanness in reference to nudity, sodomy, fornication, or adultery; but the word can also refer to demonic oppression of any kind. In other words, a person with an unclean spirit is synonymous with being oppressed. For example, the lunatick son is said to have an unclean spirit (Luke 9:42). Individual context must decide the nature of the oppression. In the present case with the Gadarene demoniac, sexual uncleanness may well have been involved in light of his nudity. [395]

FNClearly from the text, Jesus commanded the demons to come out of the men, but the demons didn’t readily obey Him! They first pled with Jesus not to torment them, Jesus asked the demon in authority what his name was, Legion made petition of Jesus to enter the swine, Jesus gave him permission and the demoniacs were delivered. The point is, don’t be discouraged if, in the process of delivering an individual, the Devil doesn’t obey you immediately and come out: he didn’t do it right away for Jesus in this incident with the Gergesene demoniacs. The Devil fights back and the way he does it at times is to strike a bargain or deal with you. The comfort is, the Devil eventually has to obey and come out! He can’t oppress against your word of authority in Jesus’ Name!

Additionally, it should be noted that deliverance is not a matter of psychiatric or medical treatment, neither is it a matter of forcible coercion. As in this case with the Gadarene demoniac, you can strap or hold down a demoniac who’s manifesting demons, but it doesn’t do any good because demoniacs have a power or strength that is other-than-human; it’s physical power that’s demonically-empowered. Brethren, you don’t hold down a person in a violent rage: you command the demon to come out! [396]

FNIt’s obvious from the text that this was a severe case of demonic oppression These demoniacs were in a state of continuous manifestation. Mark says always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones (Mark 5:5). The demons were making them do so many vile and violent things that they could not be a part of society. Even alone, they couldn’t be bound with chains. [397]

FNThe average Roman legion consisted of about 6,000 soldiers. It’s possible that there were this many demons oppressing the demoniacs, but the likelier understanding is a figurative use of a legion as a formidable fighting force that’s not easily conquered. In other words, these demoniacs were not only oppressed by a lot of demons, but these demons themselves were quite strong and forceful. The point is, it’s possible to be oppressed by more than one demon. [398]

FNThe Greek parakaleo, which means to beseech, ask, or pray. It’s the same word used when people asked Jesus to do something for them (Matthew 8:5, Mark 1:40, 8:22, Luke 7:4). Demons have to ask too! [399]

FNThe abyss, or bottomless pit which figures so much in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 9:1, 11:7, 20:1). This is where Satan is going to be bound and confined for a thousand years while the millennium is in progress (Revelation 20:3). It’s interesting to note that not even the demons want to go into the abyss! Friends, the abyss is so bad that not even the devils want to go there, Earth is like Heaven to them! O that men would have at least this much sense from demons and live in such a way as to escape the judgment of the abyss!

Additionally, it should be noted from Mark’s account that the demons begged Jesus not to be sent out of the country (Mark 5:10). In other words, they wanted to stay in that region. Here, then, we find indication that demons have territorial preferences: they want to stay within a certain geographical area and that area, then, becomes renown for their particular type of oppression, sin, or lifestyle. In this light, it’s not incredulous to say, or hear it said, that a particular demon or group of demons hold sway over a certain city or locale. [400]

FNThe KJV word suffer means to permit or allow. Instead of going into the abyss, the demons wanted to go into a herd of swine. Jesus let them. It’s proof positive that animals can be, at times, oppressed by demons and made to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do. Brethren, when you have a pet that’s acting behaviorally abnormal, or when you run across an animal that’s threatening your life or property; take authority over it, rebuke it, and command the devil to come out of that animal! I’ve done this several times when dogs were attacking me. It’s always so satisfying to see the dogs stop in their tracks, as if they ran into a brick wall, then slowly, grudgingly turn around and walk away from me. [401]

FNWhy did the demons cause the swine to run down the embankment into the sea and drown? If the swine were going to drown and die within moments after being oppressed, thus leaving these demons with the task of finding someone else to oppress; why did they enter the swine anyway? Well, in light of what happened afterwards with the town’s people, I believe the demons did this to the swine because it was their way of getting Jesus not only to leave them, but also to leave the region: they simply didn’t want Jesus to stay in the vicinity and cast more demons out! [402]

FNThere are varying degrees of oppression and manifestation. That is, in some instances, the demons manifest once in a great while; while others manifest on a frequent, regular basis. Some inspire men to hurt other people, while others inspire them to hurt themselves. Some inspire men to congregate with those of like oppression (e.g. homosexual and lesbian communities or support groups); while others inspire them to shun contact with people (e.g. psychotics). Since there are varying degrees of oppression and manifestation, the adverse effects of oppression will vary. Despite the variation, the bottom line remains the same: there’s nothing beneficial about being oppressed! [403]

FNSadism and masochism are both demonic oppressions. In sadism, a person gets pleasure or enjoyment by hurting others, while in masochism, he gets it by hurting himself. In both cases, pleasure comes from pain. Physical abuse, murder, and suicide are committed under satanic oppression or inspiration. [404]

FNWhat were they doing at Jesus’ feet? They undoubtedly were thanking the Lord. But the likelier understanding is, Jesus was teaching them. You see, the Jews understood sitting at someone’s feet in an educational sense; it was synonymous for a disciple learning from his master (see Luke 10:39). After Jesus delivered these men, He taught and instructed them. Brethren, DON'T JUST DELIVER THEM: TEACH THEM! [405]

FNAfter the demoniacs were delivered, one of the first things Jesus did was He clothed them. Jesus, my friends, doesn’t want you living naked. Nudity isn’t Christian. Nudity exposed to the sight of others is an invitation to sin. Just ask David (2 Samuel 11). THE DEVIL WANTS YOU TO WEAR AS LITTLE CLOTHING AS IS SOCIALLY-PERMISSIBLE BECAUSE HE KNOWS WHAT MEN WILL DO WHEN BODIES ARE EXPOSED. Even when no one else is around and no one else can see you, Jesus still covers you up. Christianity, brethren, isn’t all doctrine! There’s a practical side of the Gospel. Jesus isn’t intent just to save you or deliver you. After He does that, He shows you how He wants you to live. In this instance, fully clothed.[406]

FNOppression affects the mind. When demons are manifesting, the person is literally out of his mind: he’s not thinking straight, his mind is under Satanic control. [407]

FNDeliverance and healing were viewed by the Jews as being one and the same thing. [408]

FNIt’s quite possible that the people’s fear was in part generated by the loss of their swine and income. The healing of this demoniac cost them a lot of money! According to Mark’s account, there were about 2,000 swine lost that day (Mark 5:13). In order to avoid losing any more money, the people asked Jesus to leave. In this light, then, people would much rather preserve their income than sacrifice it for the sake of delivering someone who’s oppressed. Income and the economy, I am saying, mean more to society than the welfare of one or two of its citizens. There’s money in oppression. Ask the drug cartels, the tobacco industry, the alcohol breweries, the porn publishers and bars, the eastern gurus and New Age spirit guides, and they’ll tell you there’s money involved. Deliverance robs some people or some aspects of the economy of their income (Acts 16:16-24). For this reason, deliverance is opposed by a significant portion of the population. [409]

FNThe Gergesenes or Gadarenes didn’t want Jesus around and Jesus respected their decision. He didn’t stay where He wasn’t wanted or welcomed. To this point in time, then, this is the second rejection of Jesus by a community of people: (1) He was first rejected by His townsfolk in Nazareth (Luke 4:28,29); (2) then by the people of Gergesa or Gadara (Matthew 8:34); (3) followed by the Samaritans (Luke 9:51-56); and (4) lastly, by the religious leaders and people on the day He was crucified (Luke 23:18, John 1:11). [410]

FNAccording to Mark’s account, the man went throughout Decapolis and told people what the Lord had done for him (Mark 5:20). A former demoniac makes for a good evangelist! Deliverance is a compelling testimony of the Lord’s power over demons and His love for the oppressed. Since Decapolis is predominantly Gentile in constitution, it may well be that this demoniac was a Gentile. This, then, was Decapolis’ first introduction to Jesus. Later on, Jesus returned to this area and ministered to people there (Mark 7:31-37). [411]

FNTwo clarifications here concerning a synagogue ruler: (1) he is strictly a synagogue official, not a religious leader. The latter was either a Sadducee, Pharisee, Scribe, or Lawyer; and (2) he is not a ruler or elder in Israel. A ruler or elder was a civil officer, while a synagogue ruler had charge only over a synagogue.

A synagogue ruler (Hebrew rosh ha-knesset) had the overall charge of the synagogue’s building, service, and officials. Some of his duties included appointing a person to read the Scriptures and pray, choosing someone to preach, and making sure the service was conducted in an orderly fashion without interruption or interference.

In the Gospel accounts, Jairus is the only person specifically named as a synagogue ruler. I am uncertain as to how many synagogues there were in Capernaum. But prior to this incident with Jairus, Jesus has taught at least once in a synagogue in Capernaum (Mark 1:21-22). If this was the same synagogue that Jairus was ruler over, it is certain that Jesus  could  not  have  preached  without Jairus’ direct appointment or permission. Hence, there is good reason to believe that Jairus is somewhat familiar with Jesus. The fact that he would come to Jesus for help shows his amiability toward Jesus, which stands in stark contrast to the animosity of the religious leaders. [412]

FNThe healing power of Jesus’ touch is common to the healings of Jairus’ daughter and the woman with the issue of blood. Jairus equates the laying on of Jesus’ hands with the healing of his daughter, while the woman with the issue of blood saw her healing in touching Jesus’ garment. In both instances, healing is effected through a touch of Jesus. [413]

FNIs it God’s will to heal? My friends, let this incident with Jairus answer your question and settle your doubt. Note Jesus’ response to Jairus and the immediacy of His response: He rose and followed Jairus (Matthew 9:19 kai egertheis, and rising up). The Greek text hints strongly at the fact that Jesus dropped what He was doing and gave precedence or priority to Jairus’ need. In responding thusly, we see Jesus’ will with regards to healing: it is His will to heal—even when a terminal illness is involved. Brethren, Jesus wouldn’t have followed Jairus if He wasn’t willing to heal. Just because death was imminent didn’t mean it wasn’t God’s will to heal her anymore. While death is a Divine appointment (Hebrews 9:27), we see in the present Scripture text that prior to this appointed time, in the matter of sickness or physical trial it is God’s will for a person to be healed and live, and not die. [414]

FNSunthlibo, meaning to press together. The idea is that there were so many people around Jesus that He was pressed for room to move. They were, in language familiar to us, packed like sardines. Movement, therefore, was labored, difficult, and slow. If you were Jairus, you might be tempted to get resentful about all those people slowing you down and get nervous because it’s taking too long to get to the house. This is an emergency, guys! Make way! But alas, the people keep crowding in. They’re not always too sympathetic. Believing, my friends, has its trials. [415]

FNWhile Jesus ministered to the children of many parents, there are only two specific incidents that are recorded when a parent entreated the Lord concerning a daughter in need: the first was by a distraught father, Jairus by name; and the second, a distraught mother who was Syro-Phoenician by nationality (Mark 7:24-26). In the present instance with Jairus, then, this is the only recorded instance in the Gospel accounts where a father sought the Lord on behalf of his daughter. [416]

FNWhen Jairus came to Jesus his daughter was just about at the point of death. Assuming she’s been sick for at least a few days, and assuming from his fatherly love that he has sought medical treatment or applied herbal remedies for her healing; Jesus was Jairus’ last resort. It was a last ditch effort—the one last thing he could do to keep his daughter from dying. [417]

FNRhusis, a flow or discharge of bodily fluids, in this instance, blood. Hence, the woman suffered from a hemorrhage or bleeding condition; the abnormal or unnatural loss of blood. Physically, the loss of blood left her weak or anemic. Religiously, from the standpoint of the Law, her bleeding condition rendered her ceremonially unclean. This uncleanness, in turn, affected everyone she stayed with or came into close contact with, Leviticus  15:19-33. And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even (verse 19). {25} And if a woman have an issue of her blood many days out of the time of her separation, or if it run beyond the time of her separation; all the days of the issue of her uncleanness shall be as the days of her separation: she shall be unclean. {26} Every bed whereon she lieth all the days of her issue shall be unto her as the bed of her separation: and whatsoever she sitteth upon shall be unclean, as the uncleanness of her separation. {27} And whosoever toucheth those things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. [418]

FNThough she sought help from many different doctors, they could not help her. They tried a lot of different treatments and prescriptions, but all these only added to her suffering and she continued to get worse. The point is, medical science cannot always help and there are times when medical treatment only aggravates or worsens an existing condition. In the face of such disheartening, dismal results, the woman persisted in her desire to be healed. Like Jairus before her, she refused to accept and live with what she had. [419]

FNThe hem of His garment, according to Matthew 9:20. A man’s outer garment or robe (KJV cloak) was one square piece of cloth that measured anywhere from 7-10 feet across. It was wrapped around the body with two of the four corners being in front and secured around the waist by a girdle or belt. When the weather was warm, the cloak was worn over the shoulders instead. It was this cloak that was rent in times of distress (Job 1:20, Matthew 26:65). Now on each of the four corners of the cloak was fastened a tassel or fringe made of twisted white thread. A ribbon of blue was sewn throughout the border or hem of the garment. The fringe was supposed to remind the Jews of God’s laws and their duty to obey them. The color blue signified the Heavenly origin of the Law (Numbers 15:37-41, Deuteronomy 22:12). The hem that the woman touched is the Greek kraspedon, referring to the fringes or tassels themselves (Hebrew tsitsith). Coming from behind our Lord, the woman reached out and touched one of the four tassels on Jesus’ robe.[420]

FNNote the sequence of events that led up to the manifestation of her healing: (1) she heard about Jesus and believed He could heal her; (2) she came to Him for healing; (3) she confessed she would be healed; (4) she touched the tassels of His garment; (5) the bleeding condition was healed; and (6) she felt that healing in her body.

Brethren, there is a progressive sequence of events that lead up to the manifestation of whatever you’re believing the Lord for: (1) faith: you believe God is able or willing to meet your need, Hebrews 11:6; (2) prayer: you take your need to the Lord in prayer, Matthew 21:22; (3) confession: you confess with your mouth what you believe in your heart, Mark 11:23; (4) you act on what you believe, James 2:14-26; (5) answer: God answers your prayer, Mark 11:24, 1 John 5:14,15; and (6) manifestation: God’s answer to your prayer is made manifest, you see it or feel it, Mark 11:24.

Now many of God’s people will pray (2) and wait for the manifestation of the answer (6), but they don’t unite their prayer with faith (1). They pray, but not in faith. Others simply wait for the answer without realizing that God answered their prayer when they prayed (5). They don’t receive the answer when they pray (5). Others will believe and wait, but they don’t act on what they believe. They don’t unite works with their faith (3). Others are ashamed, or else simply don’t know, to confess that what they’re believing the Lord to happen will happen (3). The result? No manifestation of the answer to prayer. Why? Because the manifestation of the answer to prayer requires these six elements in roughly the same order in which they are found in this Scripture text under consideration: faith, prayer, confession, act, fact, and lastly, feeling. Brethren, the feeling that we all long for comes last and it comes as a result of doing the five other things that lead up to the feeling. [421]

FNWITH JESUS THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN INCURABLE DISEASE OR AILMENT. What’s medically incurable or terminal isn’t incurable or terminal to God! For with God nothing shall be impossible (Luke 1:37). When you acknowledge this truth you’ll find that it’s not a difficult thing at all to believe God for the healing of what’s otherwise hopelessly incurable or fatally terminal. Friends, YOU CAN BELIEVE GOD FOR WHAT'S INCURABLE WHEN YOU FIRST BELIEVE THAT NOTHING'S INCURABLE TO GOD. Instead of looking at the incurability of the disease, look at the omnipotent, omniscient, curing power of your God! His power delivers you from faithlessness and resignation. [422]

FNAdditionally, there are two other things that this woman believed. One, she believed that her healing would be effected through a touch. As she saw it, Jesus had healing power within Himself and whenever He touched someone who was sick that healing power was transferred through a touch and the person ended up healed. As she saw it, in order for her to be healed she had to either be touched by Jesus, or else she had to touch Him. The important thing was, there had to be a touch, or physical, contact between Jesus and herself because the healing power was transferred through the touch.

And two, she believed that touching the tassels of Jesus’ robe was as good as touching Him or as good as being touched by Him. All she had to do was touch the tassels and that would be good enough—healing power would flow from Him through the tassels and onto her body. While she had good reasons to believe Jesus would heal her and that He would do it through a touch—because she’s seen or heard of Him doing it to others—this woman is alone in believing that the laying on of Jesus’ hands wasn’t absolutely necessary to be healed; touching His clothes was just as good, it would have the same beneficial effect or result.

Where did this woman get this kind of faith? She didn’t get it from seeing other people get healed by touching Jesus’ tassels because to this point in time, nobody’s been healed in this way. Much later during Paul’s ministry, people were healed by touching the handkerchiefs that Paul laid his hands on (Acts 19:12), but this example or precedent was not available for this woman to emulate. Her faith, rather, was borne out of the peculiar circumstances of the hour. There was a tremendous amount of people around Jesus, crowding Him and pressing in upon Him, that the woman probably did not think or believe she could get Jesus’ personal attention, get Him to stop for her and lay hands on her—after all, He was en route to Jairus’ house. As she might have saw it, there simply was no room or time for personal attention: she would settle for touching His clothes. Though her faith might have been imperfect in this regard, the point of the incident is, Jesus honored the faith she had and healed her; He met her where she was at and on the level of her faith. [423]

FNThe Lord teaches us to ask or pray—this should be regarded as the rule. In the case of the woman, however, surrounded and pressed as the Lord was, she wasn’t in a position to ask the Lord personally to heal her. But, the Lord nevertheless healed her even without her asking. Why? Because she, in essence, came to Him for healing (which is perhaps as good as praying) and she did so in faith. While we are to ask in order to receive, we see in this instance that in light of extenuating circumstances, it’s possible to receive an answer from the Lord without voicing a request—though this must certainly be regarded as an exception and not the rule.

Along this line, it must also be seen that the Lord will, at times, do something good or needed without the needy person voicing a request. The Lord just does it because He wants to. He does it of His sovereign pleasure and will to do something good for someone. An example is the man born blind from birth in John 9. The man never asked Jesus to be healed, but Jesus healed him anyway. The Gadarene demoniac in Luke 8 is another such example. [424]

FNIn these two healing incidents, Jairus’ daughter’s illness was terminal, while that of the woman’s was incurable. NO MATTER THE SEVERITY OF THE TRIAL, NOTHING'S TOO HARD FOR JESUS TO HEAL! [425]

FNHere are the different ways Jesus healed. (1) He healed just by speaking the word, as with the nobleman’s son or the Gadarene demoniac (John 4:50, Mark 5:8); (2) He healed by the spoken word and the laying on of hands, as in the case of Jairus’ daughter and the blind man of Bethsaida (Mark 5:41, 8:22-25); (3) He healed by commanding the sick person to do something, as in the case of the ten lepers and the paralytic (Mark 2:11,12, Luke 17:14); (4) Sometimes He did something to the sick, then told them to do something, as in the case of the man born blind (John 9:1-7); and (5) as in this case with the woman with the issue of blood, He healed through a touch of His garment. [426]

FNThe healing of this woman is unique in all of Scripture because she got a miracle or an answer to prayer without Jesus speaking to her, without Him laying eyes or hands on Her, and without Him paying personal attention to her.

Additionally, it should be noted that there was some difficulty involved in touching the tassels of Jesus’ robe because these tassels were, in all likelihood, situated close to the ground. Surrounded and pressed by a bunch of people, this woman had to have stooped in order to touch them. Such a posture is not easily done in that context. [427]

FNDunamis, or power. It’s the same word that’s used a lot with respect to miracles. Jesus had power within Himself to heal; the power was in Him. It’s interesting to note that when Jesus commissioned His disciples to their service or ministry, He gave them dunamis. Luke 9:1 reads, Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. When all of our Lord’s followers were baptized with the Spirit, they were empowered with dunamis from on high: But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8). In other words, as many as are baptized in the Holy Spirit, Jesus gave this same power that He had within Himself in order for them to do the same things that He did!  [428]

FNAs a general rule, there’s nothing you do that Jesus doesn’t see. Do what you will behind His back, without His notice or attention: Jesus still sees, He knows who you are and He knows what you do! Speaking with regards to faith, however, we see here that FAITH ATTRACTS JESUS' ATTENTION. Be assured, brethren, that Jesus sees your faith and He sees what you’re doing in faith. YOUR FAITH DOESN'T GO UNNOTICED, NEITHER DOES IT GO UNREWARDED! Tempted to quit believing because you don’t think Jesus sees? Keep believing and acting, my friends. Jesus sees! [429]

FNJesus knew where the power went and what the power did. Jesus keeps track of the power, Luke 8:46. [430]

FNThere’s a clear difference between going to the doctors for healing and going to the Lord; between the doctors’ healing power and that of the Lord’s. Many Christians equate the two as being one and the same thing.  That is,  they  go  to  the  doctors for healing in the faith that God is healing them through the doctors.

My friends, God isn’t healing through medical science. It’s one thing to be healed medically by doctors, it’s another thing entirely to be healed supernaturally by God through faith. If God was healing through medical science, medical science would have healed this woman a long time ago since God would have been giving the doctors the power to heal her.

To believe that God heals through medical science presents a tremendous difficulty at precisely this point. The fact that the doctors couldn’t heal her could only mean one of two things.

(1) God couldn’t heal her, He didn’t have the power to heal her. But this, obviously, contradicts the testimony of Scripture and experience: the woman went to Jesus and Jesus healed her. So God can heal and He proved it here with this woman.

(2) God had the power to heal her but it wasn’t His will to heal her through the doctors—that’s why He didn’t give the doctors the power to heal her. He wanted to heal her through Jesus and not the doctors—which is to say, there are some sicknesses that God heals through the doctors and some that He wants to heal supernaturally through faith.

But this, again, contradicts the testimony of Scripture. Jesus said when you’re sick you need to call for the elders of the church: the anointing of oil and prayer of faith is what will heal you (James 5:14-16). While the Scriptures do not deny the need of physicians or the need for the sick to seek healing at the hands of physicians, the Scriptures nevertheless cites God Himself as being the Physician of His people (Exodus 15:26). If God wanted to heal some diseases through Jesus and faith and some through the doctors and medicine, it’s interesting to note that Jesus never sent anyone to the doctors: He healed them all, all by Himself. Friends, it’s God's will to heal His people all by Himself without the use of medical science.

We do not legislate faith, nor do we forbid anyone from going to the doctors for healing. Your decision is yours alone. We do not make it for you. We only say, (1) that as God’s child, God is your Physician and He wants you to go to Him and trust Him for healing; and (2) that if you insist on getting healed medically at the hands of doctors, you shouldn’t deceive yourself and think that God’s healing you through medical science because that, clearly and Scripturally, is not true.

Don't mistake me at this point. I am not against doctors, nor am I against people, even God's people, going to doctors. If you're not believeing for divine healing you should go to the doctor. God, on occasion, blesses the works and minds of men to succeed in a given task. He who helps a carpenter, or a mechanic, mason, or heavy equipment operator, do a difficult task; can likewise help a doctor successfully treat his patient. It's not God's normal way of healing. It's still medical healing. But it's medical healing that succeeds because of God's intervention and help. If you're going to seek medical healing you should pray that God would help the doctor.

Speaking now to those of us who believe in Divine healing through faith, I’d like to say a couple of things. First, note what Mark said at the start of this account: When she had heard of Jesus (Mark 5:27). Someone told her about Jesus. She heard about Jesus because someone told her about Him. Friends, though your brethren may yet be in unbelief, alienate them not. Tell them about Jesus. Let them know what Jesus can do and what Jesus has done. Like these who testified to the woman, YOUR TESTIMONY OR WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT CAN GO A LONG WAY IN BRING FAITHLESS BRETHREN TO THE LORD IN FAITH. INSTEAD OF CRITICIZING YOUR BRETHREN, TRY TESTIFYING INSTEAD--IT'LL DO THEM A LOT MORE GOOD THAN CRITICISM EVER WILL.

And second, take close note of how Jesus received this woman, commended her for her faith, and bestowed His benediction or blessing of peace upon her. You see, this woman’s been to many doctors for a good several years—maybe the whole of the twelve years since the time she was first afflicted. To this point in time, Jesus has been living and ministering in Capernaum for roughly a year or so. By our mind, Jesus could have rebuked her for going to all those doctors. He could have rebuked her for not coming to Him sooner. But He didn’t! He commended her instead! Do you know why? Because she came believing: she had faith and that was what mattered most to our Lord. Brethren, let's learn from Jesus’ example here and learn to rejoice over those who come to the Lord in faith. FORBID NOT WHOM THE LORD RECEIVES AND REBUKE NOT WHOM THE LORD COMMENDS. Quit condemning or criticizing your brethren! Pray for them and help them to believe. Then gladly make way through the crowd and help our sister make her way to the Lord.

Speaking now to the sick, no matter how recently you’ve come to believe the Lord for healing, with faith in your heart you can still be healed of what’s terminal or incurable—it’s not too late! Consider this. The woman only heard of Jesus a few moments ago, she believed, and within moments after pressing through the crowd, she was healed—all on the basis of a faith that was just moments old! Brethren, it's not to late to come to Jesus and believe. DON'T BE CONDEMNED BY YOUR MEDICAL PAST AND DON'T LET IT KEEP YOU FROM BELIEVING OR COMING TO OUR LORD IN FAITH. LIKE RESIGNATION, CONDEMNATION KEEPS YOU FROM BELIEVING AND GOING TO GOD FOR HELP. Do you want to trust the Lord the healing? Then come, my friends. Come in faith. The Lord is a rewarder of them who diligently seek Him in faith (Hebrews 11:6), He doesn’t turn you away. [431]


FNLike Jesus, my friends, if you want people to believe, do that by encouraging them to believe—not by condemning or threatening them. How do you encourage people to believe? Here are some practical things you can do. (1) Quote them the Word and explain what God promised to do for them; (2) Tell them that the promise applies to them too. (3) Testify of past miracles, let them know what God has done in the past. Comfort them in the truth that God can do the same things for them today. (4) Help them deal with their fears or unbelief. (5) Pray with them. (6) Deliver them from demonic spirits that may be hindering them from believing. And perhaps most meaningfully, (7) like Jesus, spend time with them. Stay by their side as much as possible. GODLY FELLOWSHIP WILL, IN MANY INSTANCES, BE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FAITH AND FAITHLESSNESS. [433]

FNOut of the twelve disciples, these three disciples were chosen by our Lord to be with Him on three occasions: (1) at the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead (Mark 5:37); (2) at the mount of transfiguration (Matthew 17:1); and (3) at the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-38). [434]

FNThis statement of Jesus has baffled scholars throughout the centuries because the little girl was in all actuality dead (Luke 8:55). A common explanation is, Jesus spoke of death in terms of sleep (see John 11:11). I prefer to understand it as a positive confession of faith. Just as one who sleeps is soon awakened, so the little girl will soon be awakened, i.e. raised back to life. [435]

FNJesus put out the scorners and doubters. It’s probable He did it for the sake of having silence or peace in the house, but likelier yet that He didn’t want them to hinder Jairus' faith. IT'S HARD TO BELIEVE, OR KEEP ON BELIEVING, WHEN YOU'RE SURROUNDED BY DOUBTERS, SKEPTICS, SCORNERS, AND CRITICS. [436]

FNWhile the Jews knew Hebrew, Aramaic became their lingua franca after their return from the Babylonian exile and it is the language that Jesus and His disciples spoke. The translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Aramaic is called the Targums. When the New Testament was written, it was not written in Aramaic, but rather, in koine Greek, the common language of the Roman Empire. Thus, the words of our Lord in Aramaic had to be translated into Greek when the Gospel writers wrote their accounts. Other Aramaic words left intact and translated in the Gospel accounts include: Ephphatha (Mark 7:34), Abba (Mark 14:36), and Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani (Mark 15:34, Matthew 27:46). [437]

FNWhile there were several people raised from the dead during our Lord’s Earthly ministry (Matthew 11:5, Luke 7:22), only three are specifically recorded or named: (1) the widow’s son in Nain (recorded only by Luke in Luke 7:11-17); (2) Jairus’ daughter in Capernaum (recorded by the three synoptists, Matthew 9:18-26, Mark 5:35-43, Luke 8:41-56); and (3) Lazarus in Bethany (recorded only by John in John 11:1-44). [438]

FNThe raising of the dead and the resurrection of the dead are often times confused as being one and the same thing. While both involve the dead coming back to life, the raising of the dead involves the spirit of life returning to the same physical body from which it left. The resurrection of the dead, on the other hand, involves the physical body now buried and decayed being raised from the earth at the sound of the Heavenly trumpet, whereupon it is changed into an immortal, spiritual body (I Corinthians 15). [439]

FNBy this point in time, the girl had been dead for several minutes. In all likelihood, she’s brain dead. She’s suffered irreversible brain damage. Now if you’re medically knowledgeable, this fact may cause you to give up believing because the damage cannot be repaired. Brethren, leave those details to the Lord! He knows how to fix things that can’t be fixed. Yours is to believe, His is to heal. [440a]

FNHer body needed to be nurtured or nourished. GOD, BRETHREN, WANTS US TO TAKE CARE OF OUR BODY! IT IS NOT A LACK OF FAITH TO DO COMMON-SENSE THINGS TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY! The proper care and nurture of the body is responsible Christian stewardship of the temple of God. [441]

FNI would like to address the issue of faith with respect to the dead. Can you believe God for the raising of the dead? Yes, you most certainly can! This incident with Jairus confirms it. And when Jesus sent His twelve disciples on their first evangelistic mission, He commissioned them, among other things, to raise the dead (Matthew 10:8). Peter raised Dorcas back to life (Acts 9) and Paul, Eutychus (Acts 20).

At the same time, however, we know from Scripture that not everyone who died was raised back to life. This, then, raises the dilemma and question. When death occurs, what should you as a bystander or survivor do? Should you believe for the spirit of life to return? Or should you give up believing altogether and let them go home to be with the Lord? Who do you raise and who do you commit to the dust?

It’s difficult to speak decisively or pertinently to each and every situation since there are so many different factors involved. With the exception of believers at the time of the rapture and Christ’s second return (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 with Revelation 20:1-6), the Bible appoints all men to die (Hebrews 9:27). There is a specific time appointed of the Father for each one to die. Generally speaking, men are allotted 70 to 80 years of life (Psalm 90:10). Some, however, die before they reach this age. In Scripture we see some die in judgment or chastisement for their sins (1 Corinthians 11:30); some are murdered, as in the case of persecution (Acts 12:1,2); some die in war (1 Kings 22:34-37); some die by natural disaster (Job 1:18,19). In each of these instances, none of God’s people sought to raise these from the dead.

As you can see from what I’ve already said, each situation is unique and I cannot decide for you who you should raise and who should commit to the dust. However, here are some guidelines you should consider when you’re making your decision.

[1] DEATHS BY SICKNESS & ACCIDENTS ARE CANDIDATES FOR RAISING.  First, when we look through the pages of Holy Writ, it appears that age and the manner of death have some bearing on the raising of the dead. In the whole of Scripture we find eight specific instances of people being raised back to life: (1) The widow of Zarepta’s son (1 Kings 17); (2) The Shunammite woman’s son (2 Kings 4); (3) A dead man who was laid on top of dead Elisha’s bones (2 Kings 13); (4) The widow of Nain’s son (Luke 7); (5) Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5); (6) Lazarus (John 11); (7) Dorcas (Acts 9); and (8) Eutychus (Acts 20). Four of these were children and four were adults. With the exception of the man in 2 Kings 13 whose cause of death is not stated and Eutcychus whose death was accidental, these all died by reason of sickness. THE PRECEDENT, THEN, APPEARS TO BE, WHETHER CHILDREN OR ADULTS, THOSE WHO DIE BY REASON OF SICKNESS OR ACCIDENT ARE CANDIDATES FOR RAISING FROM THE DEAD. God’s promise to deliver His people, as many as believe Him, from death by disease or accident substantiates this precedent (Psalm 33:19, 91:3-7, 15-16). None who died by persecution, chastisement, suicide, warfare, or unbelief, were raised from the dead. Additionally, it should be noted that there may be times when God doesn’t want you to believe for the raising of a loved one because God wants to spare them from future evil that would otherwise befall them if they continued to live (Isaiah 57:1).


[3] ASK GOD IF IT’S HIS WILL TO RAISE THE PARTICULAR PERSON INVOLVED. Third, it’s possible to understand our Lord’s words in Mark 5:36 as being a direct revelation of His will in this one specific instance where death was involved. That is, the raising of Jairus’ daughter cannot be used to support the notion that it’s God will to raise every one who’s died of sickness. Rather, the incident shows that there are some times when God does indeed will that a certain dead person be raised back to life, thus IT'S UP TO EACH ONE OF US TO DETERMINE FOR OURSELVES WHAT IS GOD'S WILL IN ANY GIVEN INSTANCE OF DEATH.

Now we know that God alone holds the power over life and death. He alone makes the decision as to who lives and who dies; who enters eternity and who returns to life. No one can override God’s decision: not the trial, not the Devil, and not our faith. FAITH CANNOT OVERRIDE GOD'S WILL. IT CANNOT BE USED IN DEFIANCE OR CONTRADICTION OF GOD'S WILL. FAITH ONLY WORKS IN TANDEM OR AGREEMENT WITH GOD'S WILL, AND NEVER APART FROM IT. That is, if it’s God’s will for someone to die, we ought not believe for them to be raised. Clearly, God’s will will prevail and our faith will be for naught.

The important thing, then, is to ascertain God’s will. In the hours before death strikes, when it looks like death is very imminent, or in the first few moments after death has occurred; you need to lay your emotions and personal desires aside, get alone with the Lord, and seek His will. Strictly as a matter of personal opinion, I believe God will answer you and let you know what His will is (James 1:5). In this instance with Jairus, He told Jairus what His will was: Only believe. In other words, Jairus, I want you to believe because it’s My will to raise your daughter from the dead. If you ask God, I believe He’ll let you know what He wants you to do.

[4] DON’T REGRET THE DECISION YOU MAKE. And fourth, no matter what you decide to do in the time that you have to make your decision, you must make the decision with no questions, uncertainties, regrets, or condemnation. We’ve all had loved ones or friends die and anyone of us can feel condemned that we didn’t believe for them to come back to life. Brethren, what’s past is past. That cannot be changed and you mustn’t allow it to ruin the present or the future. Bury and forget your mistakes in the atoning, forgiving blood of Jesus and go on. When you get to glory I believe you’ll find that no one there holds anything against you: no one blames you for not believing them back to life. Have no regrets, brethren. LOVED ONES IN GLORY ARE BEST LEFT IN GLORY. THOSE IN PERDITION ARE THERE BY THEIR OWN SINS AND MISTAKES, NOT YOURS. [442]

FNLeaving Jairus’ house, Matthew records two healing incidents that are peculiar to his Gospel account: first, two blind men are healed, then a dumb demoniac is delivered (Matthew 9:32-34). Of the many blind people whom Jesus healed (Matthew 11:4,5, 15:30,31, 21:14), five are specifically recorded: (1) these two blind men in our present Scripture text (Matthew 9:27-31), (2) the blind and dumb man whose healing led the Scribes and Pharisees to commit the unpardonable sin (Matthew 12:22), (3) a blind man in Bethsaida (Mark 8:22-26), (4) Bartimaeus and his blind companion in Jericho (Matthew 20:29-34, Mark 10:46-52, Luke 18:35-43), and (5) the man who later washed in the Pool of Siloam (John 9:1-7). [443]

FNThe blind men recognized and acknowledged Jesus as the Son of David, the prophesied Messiah come among His people. How did they come to this recognition of Jesus? Undoubtedly, they heard about Jesus from other people. Assuming as well that these blind men were Capernaumites, it is entirely within reason to believe they heard Jesus’ teachings for themselves and stood by while many of their fellow Capernaumites were healed by His healing hand. Their appeal for healing was grounded not only on Messiah’s mercy, but also on His Messianic mission which included the healing of blind eyes (Isaiah 35:5, 42:1-7, Psalm 146:8). Though blind, these men knew Scriptures enough to know that when Messiah comes He would heal blind eyes. Their plea for healing, then, was Scripturally-based. [444]

FNAmong the Jews, this was a common way of asking for pity or compassion. The request, however, was for more than just an emotion. To have compassion, or to show it, was to express it in an act of kindness or goodness. Being compassionate meant doing something to fulfill another person’s desire or need. When the blind men asked Jesus for mercy they were in essence asking Him to do something about their blindness; they were asking Him for healing (see also Matthew 15:22, 17:15, Mark 9:22, 10:47-48). While we know healing to be a matter of Jesus’ omnipotent power, we see it here to be a matter of Jesus’ condescending love as well. It is Jesus’ love that moves Him to help the needy and meet their needs (Matthew 14:14, 15:32, 20:34, Mark 1:41, 5:19, Luke 7:13-14). Jesus is not without pity or compassion. When in need, my friend, remember Jesus’ compassion. He loves you and He can do something for you. TRUSTING GOD, BRETHREN, ISN'T HARD AT ALL WHEN YOU UNDERSTAND JESUS' POWER AND LOVE TO DO THE THINGS YOU NEED DONE IN YOUR LIFE. [445]

FNWhat house? Jesus either owned or rented a house in Capernaum (Matthew 4:13), or else He was granted residence in the home of a follower. [446]

FNStraitly charged, to warn sternly or vehemently. These men were under Jesus’ strict orders not to say anything about their healing. Why? Probably to hold in check His ever-growing fame or popularity. [447]

FNAfter a lifetime of darkness these men were now able to see for the very first time. They were so excited and happy that they didn’t listen to a word Jesus said: they ended up doing what He forbade them to do. [448]

FNIf it’s God’s will to heal blind eyes and if He can heal blind eyes, then you must understand, brethren, that it’s God’s will to heal eyes that can’t see too well! He can heal any trial of visual impairment or difficulty that you may have! You see, the question or problem isn’t one of God’s willingness or ability to restore perfect vision or eyesight today. The question or problem is, Do you believe God can heal your eyes and make you see clearly again? Do you believe all things are possible to him that believeth? Do you believe God will do for you whatever you’re believing Him to do? You see, the problem for all too many is the problem of unbelief. They simply don’t believe God can, or will, heal their eyes and improve their vision; visual impairment can only be remedied at the hands of the optometrist or ophthalmologist. Friends, that isn’t how God heals eyes! He heals by speaking a word (just like when He created the world). To be sure, no one can force you to trust God for the healing of your eyes, but we only let you know that this something you can trust the Lord for because it’s something that the Lord is still doing today. Labor to believe, brethren. Sometimes it takes time to come to that point of faith. I know because I’ve been there.

Along this line, it’s interesting to note that Jesus had been in Capernaum for over a year, He conducted at least one healing service in that city (Mark 1:21, 32-34). In this city a paralytic was healed (Mark 2), the woman with an incurable bleeding condition was cured (Mark 5), Jairus’ daughter was raised from the dead (Mark 5); Jesus even healed a man in Capernaum’s synagogue on the Sabbath (Mark 3) and in a synagogue on another Sabbath He delivered a demoniac (Mark 1). Besides all these, Jesus had gone throughout Galilee twice, teaching and healing a multitude of people. So what’s the point? The point is, why weren’t these two blind men in Capernaum healed earlier? Why didn’t they come to Jesus earlier? Your speculation is as good as mine, but it’s wholly probable that they didn’t come to Jesus until they resolved in their hearts that Jesus could heal their blind eyes. Brethren, when you’ve resolved faith in your heart, come to Jesus and ask: He’ll be around and He’ll cause you to see clearly again. [449]

FNFaith not only believes, but it confesses, acts, and perseveres or endures. Notice in Matthew 9:29 that Jesus equates their perseverance with faith. Faith will, when it has to, persevere until it has manifestly received what it has asked for. As we take note in the commentary above, FAITH WITHOUT PERSEVERANCE IS UNAVAILING. FOR FAITH TO RECEIVE, IT MUST PERSEVERE TO THE VERY END AND NOT GIVE UP. [450]

FNDiligently, meaning to seek out earnestly, to look hard and long to try and see, or find, something. In other words, what’s sought for is not easily seen or found. [451]

FNIn another case of demonic possession relating to a physical condition, a spirit of infirmity is said to have bound a woman who was bowed (Luke 13:11,16). The word literally means to bind or tie: the Gadarene demoniac was bound with chains (Mark 5:3,4), Jesus was bound when He was taken to Pilate for trial (Matthew 27:2), and Lazarus was bound or wrapped with grave clothes when he was entombed (John 11:44, 19:40). Now when a person is bound, freedom of movement is severely restricted or denied altogether. In the case of the bowed woman, a devil bound her spinal cord and kept it from straightening to its normal position. In the dumb demoniac, the mute spirit bound his vocal apparatus so that it could not move or work freely. [452]

FNSome illnesses are naturally self-induced as a result of personal irresponsibility or neglect. For example, a person who works hard and long for an extended period of time eventually wears out and gets sick; a person who doesn’t eat a balanced meal eventually suffers nutrient or vitamin deficiency and gets sick; a person who over-indulges in sugary or fatty foods likewise gets sick. While these sicknesses are self-induced and are the result of natural laws, the Devil nevertheless can, and does at times, involve himself in the sickness: (a) by oppressing a person with a workaholic spirit, making him work too much, thus making him sick; (b) by appealing to a person’s fleshly lusts and tempting him to over-indulge in certain foods; (c) by aggravating the sickness and making the person sicker; (d) by prolonging the sickness and preventing the body from naturally healing itself in a timely manner. In one way or another, then, the Devil is found wherever sickness is. [453]

FNDoes this mean that all sicknesses, diseases or physical conditions are oppressions of Satan? Is everyone who’s sick, oppressed? (A) In answer, we know sickness to be the work of Satan. It’s he who inflicts it on the bodies of men (Job 2:4-7). The sick are said to be oppressed: How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him (Acts 10:38). Now this word oppressed is the Greek word katadunastuo, which means to rule over, exploit, or tyrannize a person. In other words, sickness is a form of Satan’s tyranny and terror. It’s used only two times in the New Testament: here in Acts 10:38 and in James 2:6. In both instances, the idea behind oppression is that of making life difficult or hard.

(B) Now the chief word that’s used to describe those who were oppressed by spirits of infirmity is the KJV possessed (Greek, daimonizomai), meaning to have a demon or to be afflicted and vexed with a demon.

(C) At the same time, when Jesus healed He did not always rebuke a spirit or take a person through deliverance. For example, He healed a deaf boy by rebuking a spirit on one occasion (Mark 9:17-25), but on another occasion He healed a deaf man by spitting, touching the man’s tongue, and commanding it to be opened and talk (Mark 7:31-37). He rebuked a spirit of blindness in one instance (Matthew 12:22), but in another, He put mud on the blind man’s eyes and told him to wash in the Pool of Siloam; when the man did it, his eyes were opened (John 9:1-7). In various Gospel texts relating to Jesus’ mass healing campaigns, the sick are often distinguished from those who were demon possessed (Matthew 4:24, 8:16, 10:1, Mark 1:34, 3:10,11, 6:13, etc). The leper (Luke 5:12), the paralytic (Luke 5:18), the woman with the issue of blood (Luke 8:43), and many such were healed by a touch or command without any reference to demonic possession or deliverance. Similarly, Jesus instructed the elders to heal the sick in the church through the laying on of hands, praying in faith for their healing, and anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord (James 5:14, x-ref. Mark 16:18).

(D) So what’s the point? The point is, sickness is a tyranny, oppression, and work of Satan. He’s the one who makes people sick. Sometimes, he simply vexes them by making them sick. Doctors refer to these as being sick, diseased, or infirmed. For us who believe, we refer to these vexations as a physical trial or a trying of our faith. At other times, however, the Devil not only inflicts sickness, but he also enters the human body and binds or renders invalid and dysfunctional, a particular part or organ of the body, as in the case of the dumb man in our present Scripture text. In other words, he not only makes people sick:he keeps them sick. When this happens, the Bible refers to the sick as being possessed by the Devil. ALL SICKNESSES ARE THE WORK OF SATAN: HE INFLICTS IT. BUT NOT ALL SICKNESSES ARE A MATTER OF DEMONIC POSSESSION. The sick are oppressed in the sense that they’re being attacked or afflicted by Satan. But not everyone who’s sick and oppressed is necessarily possessed. The possessed are oppressed, but the oppressed are not necessarily possessed.

The difference between oppression and possession can be easier understood in this analogy. A city is to be attacked. The enemy can either stay outside the city and bombard it with missiles and bombs; or else he can sneak into the city and attack it from within. Oppression is Satan attacking you from without; possession is when he’s gained entry into your body, stays there, and attacks or afflicts it from within.

This being so, it’s necessary and important for us to wait on the Lord as we pray for the sick. We need to know whether the sickness is just a trial, or else a case of demonic possession. Why? Because THAT KNOWLEDGE DETERMINES HOW WE MINISTER AND HOW THE SICK GET HEALED. In a physical trial, the prayer of faith and the laying on of hands are sufficient for healing. In cases of demonic possession, healing is effected through deliverance. [454]

FNJesus had four brothers and at least a couple of sisters, maybe more. They were offended at Jesus because He was the cause or object of the town’s criticisms and they, being related to Him, didn’t like being a part of the criticism. Friends, IF YOU CAN'T HANDLE CRITICISM YOU'LL END UP GETTING OFFENDED AT JESUS; YOU'LL BE ASHAMED TO BE RELATED TO HIM OR IDENTIFIED WITH HIM. LEARN TO LIVE WITH CRITICISM: IT'LL KEEP YOU FROM GETTING OFFENDED. [455]

FNWhile Matthew wrote that Jesus did not do many mighty works there (Matthew 13:58), Mark wrote He could not do many mighty works there. WHILE JESUS IS ALL-POWERFUL, A PERSON'S UNBELIEF KEEPS JESUS FROM WORKING MIRACLES ON HIS OR HER BEHALF. YOUR UNBELIEF, BRETHREN, LIMITS, AS IT WERE, WHAT JESUS CAN, OR WILL, DO FOR YOU. The passage doesn’t question our Lord’s omnipotence, rather, it emphasizes the great adverse effect that unbelief has.

Additionally, it should be noted that miracles or healing require faith on the part of its recipient. If the recipient who wants to be healed isn’t believing, Jesus doesn’t do a miracle for him or her. You see, since Jesus is all-powerful and can do anything He wants to do, Jesus could have healed every sick person in Nazareth—after all, that was His will to heal, wasn’t it? Boy, wouldn’t that have worked wonders for His public relations and image! That would have made believers out of them! But Jesus didn’t do it! Why? Because there wasn’t any faith; the people weren’t believing. Friends, NO MATTER WHAT KIND OF POWER JESUS HAS, HE DOESN'T ABROGATE OR ALLEVIATE THE NEED FOR FAITH. HE STILL REQUIRES US TO BELIEVE. Wonder why many aren’t healed today? Some say, “Because it’s not God’s will to heal.” Others, “Because I’m an exception.” And still others, “Because it’s not always God’s will to heal everyone.” These are what men say. But God says, Because of their unbelief. [456]

FNIn only two instances of Scripture is it said that Jesus marveled: He marveled at the centurion’s great faith (Matthew 8:10) and He marveled at the Nazarenes’ unbelief (Mark 6:6). What does it mean to marvel? It means to be amazed or astonished. People are astonished that we would trust the Lord so completely for everything we need, but the thing they don’t see is, God is astonished they don’t! [457]

FNThe Nazarenes rejected Jesus once and He went away. In fact, their rejection resulted in Jesus moving to Capernaum and staying there. Some time having passed, Jesus returned once again to Nazareth. The point? Here was a second chance, a second opportunity, for the Nazarenes to get on the bandwagon and become believers and followers of Christ. Sadly, most of them didn’t. But the point remains the same: Jesus gave them another chance. With their rejection, this is the last recorded time Jesus came to Nazareth. As far as we know, Jesus never went to Nazareth again! [458]

FNThe same problem largely remains with us today among family, relatives, and friends who’ve watched us grow up and become ministers or servants of the Lord. Like the Nazarenes, they see us as only being carpenters. They do not recognize or acknowledge the call of God upon our lives and His hand of wisdom or power upon our ministry. Brethren, if you have a loved one or friend in ministry, you have to learn to look at them in light of God’s call: God called and made them a minister. Just because you don’t like or agree with their chosen profession doesn’t automatically mean they’re not ministers. Brethren, they’re ministers by God’s doing, not yours. Just as the Nazarenes missed out on the many wonderful blessings they could have had at the hands of their fellow Nazarene, so you too will miss out on the many wonderful blessings you could have as the Lord speaks and works through your loved one and friend in ministry. [459]

FNJesus had many, many disciples, followers, or believers; but He appointed only twelve of them to be His apostles. A mathetes is a disciple, pupil, or learner; he is someone who follows and learns the teachings and skills of another. In our day, a disciple could be likened to a student or a workman’s apprentice. An apostolos, on the other hand, is a delegate, representative, or ambassador; he is someone who’s commissioned and authorized to represent, speak, or act on behalf of another; he represents a higher authority than himself. [460]

FNThe names of the twelve apostles are listed in Matthew 10:2-3, Mark 3:16-19, and Luke 6:14-16 (see also Acts 1:13). {Click here to view a brief biography of the twelve apostles.} [461]

FNMark alone makes mention of the fact that the apostles were sent out in pairs. Later on, seventy other disciples were similarly sent forth to minister in pairs (Luke 10:1). [462]

FNThis is the first-recorded instance where the disciples got a chance to minister. Prior to this time, for over a year now, all they did was they stayed in Jesus’ presence, listened to Him, watched, and learned. Remember. Preparation and teaching are not an end in themselves: they’re supposed to lead us to minister to the saved and the unsaved all around us. [463]

FNThe period of apostolic preparation was not done yet: they would remain with Jesus for another year and a half, learning from Him, before they would minister on a full-time or continual basis. This empowerment, then, took place during their preparation, not after. Even though we’re still being prepared for ministry, this doesn’t mean we’re not yet empowered and authorized to minister. It doesn’t mean we won’t be empowered and authorized until after we’re done being prepared. Note the timing of this empowerment: the apostles were not empowered when they were first called to be disciples (Mark 3:13-15). They were empowered after they spent some time with Him being prepared by Him. We can argue and debate about the timing of our empowerment, as to when exactly it is that we are empowered. The point is, brethren, it’s Jesus who empowers us and it’s He who decides when He’s going to do it. Speaking from this precedent of Scripture, we can safely say that Jesus empowers us when He’s prepared us sufficiently to a point where we can go forth on a limited basis and minister. In this sense, then, empowerment comes subsequently to our conversion experience and not simultaneously with it. It comes after we’re saved, not at the same time we’re saved.

Additionally, it should be noted from Mark 16:15-18  and  Acts 1:8  that  the  blessed  baptism in the Holy Spirit is part of the empowerment: we are empowered to minister when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit. Do you wonder why denominationalists as a whole aren’t healing the sick, cleansing the leper, raising the dead, and casting out demons? Because they lack the power to do it; they reject the Pentecostal Spirit baptism that empowers them to do it. That’s why Jesus told His disciples to tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high (Luke 24:49). Jesus already gave them power when He sent them forth to preach, but He had more power—or else a different sort of power—to give them; it was a power that would enable them to go into all the world and make believers out of Jews, Gentiles, and Samaritans alike. Speaking on this side of Calvary and Pentecost, every Spirit-filled believer who’s learning and growing in the knowledge in Christ has the power and authority to minister to others. [464]

FNWhere you go to minister isn’t your decision to make: it’s decided for you by the Lord. While there may be a lot of places where you’d like to minister, it’s the Lord who will tell you where to go. [465]

FNThe Lord not only tells you where to go: He also tells you what to say. Brethren, THE LORD DOESN'T SEND YOU TO SAY WHATEVER YOU WANT TO SAY. YOUR MESSAGE IS DETERMINED FOR YOU BY GOD. In witnessing to the lost it’s perhaps an easy tendency to ramble on about the many fine points of theology. Theology, brethren, belongs in the church: they’re to be given to those who are saved. THE MESSAGE WE NEED TO PREACH TO THE LOST IS THE MESSAGE OF REPENTANCE AND SALVATION. Start with first things first: get them saved first. YOU CAN'T EXPECT HEATHENS TO LIVE AS CHRISTIANS WHEN THEY AREN'T CHRISTIANS YET! [466]

FNThe Lord not only tells you where to go and what to say: He also tells you what to do. Notice here that Jesus empowered, authorized, and commissioned His disciples to do the very same things He Himself was doing. They were, in effect, to duplicate His works. Jesus said in John 14:12, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also. The commission, my friends, tells us that WE CAN DO WHAT JESUS HIMSELF DID! We can heal the sick, cleanse  the  lepers,  raise  the  dead, and cast out devils.  Not only can we do what Jesus did, dear brethren, but He Himself wants us to do it! It’s His will for us to do it! Why? Because true Christianity isn’t concerned only with the souls of men, but also with their bodies. The God who’s interested in saving men’s souls is also interested in healing their bodies. He wants men’s bodies to be healthy, whole, and free of oppression (3 John 2). You see, friends, the commission to heal shows us that it’s not God’s will for us to remain sick and oppressed: He wants us healed and healthy. Healing is God’s will!


FNI think in the past some of us have been critical of the brethren who engaged in some sort of ministry: some are involved in a jail ministry, others in nursing homes; and others still witness on the streets; some spend a couple of years in Russia, others in China. While I have my questions and doubts with respect to some, it’s not for me to criticize the brethren and discourage, hinder, or stop them from ministering. IT'S THE LORD WHO SENDS HIS LABORERS FORTH: NOT ME, NOT YOU. THOSE WHO DO THE LORD'S WORK NEED OUR PRAYERS, NOT OUR CRITICISMS. Before we criticize these laborers we ought to ask ourselves, Why aren’t we out there doing ministering to the needy and lost? [468]

FNAdditionally, it should be noted that at this stage of their spiritual preparation or maturity, the disciples as a whole were probably not ready to embrace Gentiles and Samaritans in the fold. Over a year later, after Cornelius and his household became one of the first Gentiles to believe and receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, some Jewish Christians in the Jerusalem Church had problems with Peter ministering to these Gentiles (Acts 11:1-3). Part of their preparation, then, included breaking down the barriers that keep different people or nationalities apart; it included putting away the prejudices that keep God’s people from ministering to certain segments of society or races of humanity—and this, my friends, takes time.

In much the same way, THE SCOPE OR EXTENT OF YOUR MINISTRY IS IN SOME WAY AFFECTED OR DETERMINED BY THE DEPTH OF YOUR SPIRITUAL MATURITY OR PREPARATION: you’ll minister to those whom you are presently spiritually prepared to minister to. As the barriers and prejudices come down, you’ll be able to minister to those whom you haven’t heretofore ministered to. Brethren, GOD WANTS THE BARRIERS AND PREJUDICES TO COME DOWN BECAUSE IT'S KEEPING US FROM MINISTERING TO ALL THE PEOPLE WHOM THE LORD IS REACHING OUT TO. Part of our present preparation, then, involves us getting rid of the walls we’ve built that keep us separate from those whom the Lord wants to save.

What are some of those walls? Racial prejudice. Pride, self-righteousness, and a holier-than-thou attitude. The notion that God isn’t interested in saving a particular person or group of persons. The belief that a person or group of persons is hopelessly beyond reach of the Gospel, they’ll never get saved, they’ll never change their mind about Christianity. The fear that ministering to a person or group of persons will defile or oppress you. And more. [469]

FNLiterally, girdle or belt. See the next two footnotes below. To provide money in your girdles means ‘to get or procure’. In other words, don’t bring any money along. Additionally, the word can mean ‘to gain or acquire, in the sense of earning or receiving payment’. Understood in this way, the disciples were not allowed to acquire money for their services. That is, they were to minister without monetary ambitions or aims. [470]

FNGreek pera, a leather bag or sack in which travelers would carry their provisions. The word can also have reference to a beggar’s collection bag. Philosophers and itinerant preachers would carry a bag along to collect or receive financial contributions. Today’s offering box or plate would be a modern-day equivalent of the ancient bag. People need to be given the opportunity to give, for the workman is worthy of his meat. But passing the plate isn’t the way to do it. [471]

FNThe men of Jesus’ day wore five basic articles of dress. (1) The inner garment, or tunic, was a long piece of cloth folded over and sewn down one side with holes cut out at the top for the neck and at the corners for the arms. It reached down to the knees, or else to the ankles. The KJV translates chiton as coat (Matthew 5:40, Luke 3:11). A man who had nothing on but his coat is said to be naked (2 Samuel 6:20, John 21:7). The coat was held close to the body by a (2) girdle. It was made either of leather or some other expensive, embroidered cloth. It was about six inches wide and was fastened around the loins or waist with a clasp. This girdle or loincloth is translated in Matthew 10:9 as purse. That’s because the girdle was doubled over at each end, forming a pocket in which money could be carried. A dagger could also be carried and concealed by the girdle, as in 1 Samuel 25:13 and 2 Samuel 20:8-10. Sometimes, instead of using a girdle with the inner garment, a man would use it on his (3) outer garment, or robe. This was the main article of dress. It was about 7-10 feet square and was required to have a ribband of blue with fringes of white thread to remind the Jews of God’s Law (Numbers 15:37-41, Deuteronomy 22:12). By day it was worn as a cloak and by night, the poor used it as a blanket. Because of this, the law required that when a man gave his robe as a pledge to a creditor, the creditor had to return it by nightfall (Exodus 22:25-27, Deuteronomy 24:13). (4) The Jews did not wear shoes. Instead, they wore sandals. This was simply a flat sole of leather, wood, or matted grass, with thongs that tied the sandals to the feet. They were not worn in the house. They were also taken off upon entering a holy place (Exodus 3:5, Joshua 5:15). (5) A turban, or headdress was a piece of white, blue, or black cloth about a yard square, folded diagonally and placed on the head in such a way that it protected the neck, cheek bones, and eyes from the heat and glare of the sun. It was held in place by a band of semi-elastic wool. [472]

FNA stick corresponding to a shepherd’s rod or walking staff. Staves were common since people did a lot of walking back then. They were also used to ward off menacing animals or robbers. [473]

FNLiterally, nourishment or food. While the Lord here emphasizes the disciples’ need to minister freely by faith, He also encourages them in the knowledge or fact that their needs would be provided for by the people they ministered to. Indeed, charity was considered one of the greatest virtues or works among the Jews. To aid in the support of a Rabbi was considered a privilege. The people, then, are expected to aid or contribute to the minister’s support (1 Corinthians 9:14).

Putting the whole counsel of Scripture together, A MINISTER IS NOT SUPPOSED TO CHARGE THE PEOPLE FOR HIS SERVICES OR MINISTRIES, BUT HE CAN RECEIVE THE FINANCIAL OR MATERIAL SUPPORT AND CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE PEOPLE HE MINISTERS TO. Indeed, the Lord provides for the needs and sustenance of the minister through the gratitude and kindness of the people ministered to. [474]

FNIs it wrong to charge people for your books, CDs, concerts, or conferences? Here are two guidelines you should prayerfully consider. First, Jesus makes plain in this text that the Gospel is not for sale. It is to be given free of charge. If your books, CDs, concerts, or conferences center around the Gospel and are a proclamation of the Gospel, then they should be offered to the public without charge.

Second, in making books, CD's, DVD's, concerts, or conferences available to the public; if your purpose is to minister to people, then the ministry should be rendered to the people without charge. THE MINISTRY OF THE GOSPEL OR KINGDOM ISN'T A BUSINESS ENTERPRISE: IT ISN'T DONE FOR MONEY OR PROFIT. Ministry done in the name of Jesus and done in obedience to His commission is a faith ministry: it ministers free of charge and trusts the Lord to supply for the needs of the minister and the ministry.  Naturally, while there are expenses involved in publishing books, recording CD's and DVD's, and holding concerts or conferences, the Lord will provide for these expenses through the unsolicited, freewill offerings of the people.

As a side note, it should be observed that in the matter of entertainment, as in a Christian concert or novel, the Bible doesn’t present the ministers and labors of the Kingdom in terms of entertainers and entertainment. Rather, it presents the labors of the kingdom in terms of ministry. In this light, CHRISTIAN ENTERTAINERS OR ARTISTS OUGHT ALSO TO BE UNDER THE SAME OBLIGATION AS MINISTERS OF THE GOSPEL AND NOT CHARGE THE PUBLIC FOR ANY SERVICES RENDERED.

Remembering that the Gospel and the Kingdom are a ministry and not a business, the principal rule of thumb is this. IF YOU'RE CONDUCTING A MINISTRY, GIVE FREELY. IF YOU'RE CONDUCTING A BUSINESS, CHARGE. [475]

FNAxios, meaning ‘fit or deserving’. It’s a word that’s used in relation to a person’s character or the reward due him. The disciples were to stay with morally upright people. [476]

FNAt a time when inns were few and far between, people readily opened their houses for overnight accommodations. Showing hospitality to a traveler, especially a rabbi or prophet, was considered a privilege, not a burden. Like the Jews, Christians are to be hospitable (Romans 12:13, 1 Timothy 3:2, 5:10, Titus 1:8, Hebrews 13:2). In a similar instruction given by our Lord to the seventy disciples sent forth, Jesus told them to stay in one house; they were not to go from one house to another (Luke 10:7). [477]

FNTo greet with the customary embrace that was, and still is, common among Middle Eastern peoples. [478]

FNA customary greeting or salutation was the benediction or bestowal of peace, “Peace be upon you” (Genesis 43:23, Judges 19:20, 1 Samuel 25:6, Daniel 10:19, Luke 10:5-6). Unlike western culture today, words had life and power among the Israelites: they did something, they had or produced an effect (see Isaiah 45:23, 55:11, Zechariah 5:3). Words of peace spoken or confessed upon an individual would bring peace, blessings, or prosperity upon that individual.

You’d understand this benediction of peace a lot better if you envision peace as something tangible, let’s say money, a basket of food, or a boxed gift. When you pronounce peace upon someone, it’s like you taking the money, food, or gift that’s in your hand and giving it to that someone. The benediction of peace, I’m trying to say, wasn’t just words: it actually did something, it was an impartation or transference of something that’s very much tangible in the spiritual realm.

People today scoff at a positive confession of faith and  see it as nothing more than mere words that can’t possibly do anything. Jesus didn’t think that. He knew the power of words and His instruction to His disciples shows that Jesus saw their peace as actually being given or taken back according to the words of the disciples.[479]

FNEverything relating to a Gentile was regarded as defiled and unclean by the Jews—even the very dust of a Gentile land was considered defiling. Thus, when a Jew entered Palestine after traveling in Gentile territory he would shake the dust from his feet as a symbolic gesture of removing the defilement from his body. The Jews in Galilee who would not hear or receive what the disciples had to say were to be treated as if they were Gentiles.

More so, the shaking off of dust was done to show that the people who rejected the Gospel were now held responsible, accountable, or liable for it. Like evidence admitted into a court of law, the dusting off of the feet was evidence that the people had an opportunity to hear the Gospel but they refused to do so, hence, they’re responsible for their rejection (Luke 10:11, Acts 13:51. note the use of the word against). [480]

FNWe see here, then, that WE ARE ALL HELD ACCOUNTABLE--NOT ONLY FOR THE LIGHT WE HAVE, BUT ALSO FOR THE LIGHT WE REFUSE OR REJECT. We’re not only held accountable for the Word we’ve heard and believed, but also for the Word we’ve refused to hear, accept, or believe.

Two things in particular. First, we’re held accountable for the Gospel that we’ve heard but didn’t believe or obey. We’re accountable for the truths we know but didn’t live up to. Jesus said in Matthew 7:26 and 27, And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: {27} And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

Similarly, in Luke 12:47 and 48 Jesus said, And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. {48} But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

Friend, EVEN IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE THE GOSPEL OR THE BIBLE, YOU'RE STILL HELD ACCOUNTABLE BY GOD IF YOU'VE HEARD IT. HEARING MAKES YOU ACCOUNTABLE. Not only that, but knowing makes you accountable too! The fact that you know something, but didn’t believe it or live up to it, makes you accountable in God’s sight.

And second, we’re held accountable for the Word we refuse to hear. Read once again what Jesus said in Matthew 10:14, And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words. If one of God’s people came to us to tell us the Gospel but we refused to listen, that refusal to listen makes us accountable in God’s sight. The way God sees it, REFUSING TO HEAR THE GOSPEL IS TANTAMOUNT TO REFUSING THE GOSPEL—it’s every bit as dangerous as hearing it and then not believing it or obeying it. This ought to dispel the notion that we’re accountable only for the things we know and believe. The fact of the matter is, we’re liable for the truths we don’t know if we were given the opportunity to know them but we refused to know them or hear them. In other words, we’re not only accountable for the Word or the light we have; but we’re also accountable for the Word or the light we don’t have IF we refused to hear or receive the Word or the light when it was offered to us.

Friend, do you think you won’t be judged for what you don’t know? Think again. If you were given the opportunity to know the truth—that is, God’s people tried to tell you—but you refused to listen to them, then the Lord sees your refusal to listen and know as your rejection of His Gospel. You were given an opportunity that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah never had: the Gospel was never presented to them. Thus, because you had the opportunity and subsequently turned it down, your judgment will be worse than theirs. [481]

FNThe word harmless comes from a Greek word which means unmixed (akeraios). The idea is one of purity; not being mixed with evil. Even though we’re among people who hate and persecute us, Jesus doesn’t want us to become evil towards our persecutors. He doesn’t want us becoming like them (Romans 12:19-21). [482]

FNLiterally, sanhedrins or the assembling together of the Jewish religious rulers. [483]

FNSalvation is conditioned upon endurance in the time of testing or suffering. If we don’t endure we’ll end up denying the Lord (verse 33). The Lord, in turn, will deny us. Saving our skins or sparing ourselves from suffering isn’t worth the loss of our soul. Brethren, think twice before you think about taking the easy way out of persecution—Jesus warned you—it could cost you your soul. [484]

FNWhat are we supposed to do when we’re being persecuted? The Lord wants us to be wise as serpents: we’ve got to be smart enough to run when we can. When we can’t and we’re brought to trial, the Lord doesn’t want us to think about our defense: He’ll do the talking through us. If we’re punished, the Lord wants us to endure to the end, that is, suffer even to the point of death. Brethren, THE LORD EXPECTS US TO DIE FOR WHAT WE BELIEVE. HE EXPECTS US TO BE FAITHFUL TO HIM EVEN IF IT MEANS OUR DEATH. JESUS IS WORTH DYING FOR! [485]

FNThis verse has perplexed generations of Christians and scholars alike. Looking at the latter portion of the verse, we see plainly that Jesus was talking about Himself as the Son of Man. He mentions a coming, till the Son of Man be come. Since Jesus was already present among His disciples, what coming did Jesus have in mind? Recalling that Jesus and the disciples went their separate ways after these instructions for ministry were given (Matthew 11:1), the disciples probably understood Jesus as saying that they wouldn’t minister in every city and town of Israel until Jesus came and joined them once again. At that time, they would go together with Him through every city of Israel and preach the Gospel.

Howbeit, it’s altogether possible that Jesus is here referring to His second coming. If this was the case, we have here—and for the first time—a veiled reference to Jesus’ departure, or ascension, and His subsequent return to Earth. Until Jesus comes again, the Gospel will continue to be preached in every city of Israel. Though Israel may reject Him, He will not forsake her. He will not write Ichabod over her. He will not withhold the Gospel from her. The assurance for the Jews, then, is that the Gospel will always be made available to them until the day of His coming.

Some people argue against this understanding of the verse because the disciples could not have understood it this way. But it should be remembered that the disciples didn’t at first understand what Jesus said about His sufferings, death, and resurrection. Their lack of understanding didn’t do away with the truth and meaning of what Jesus said. In the present case, even though the disciples probably didn’t understand Jesus’ statement in verse 23 as referring to His second coming, their failure to understand it that way doesn’t do away with the truth that Jesus is indeed coming again. [486]

FNWith regard to the persecution of Christians, there is this notion prevalent within Christendom today that Christians are supposed to live a trouble-free life. They don’t make trouble or create problems, hence, they’re treated well by society and no trouble or harm is supposed to come upon them.

This notion would be true if everyone on this Earth were sheep. But when sheep live in the midst of wolves—their natural predators—there’s always bound to be problems. The sheep aren’t doing anything wrong, they’re not causing wolves any problem, but they still get attacked because wolves don’t like them.

Brethren, as long as we live among wolves, that is, among people who hate Jesus Christ whom we follow, we’ll be persecuted—even when we haven’t done anything wrong! Jesus said we would be persecuted for righteousness’ sake (Matthew 5:10). Do you know what that means? It means WE'LL BE PERSECUTED FOR DOING THE RIGHT THINGS AND LIVING THE RIGHT WAY!

Do you know what it means to be persecuted? It means you’ll be opposed by men, you’ll be slandered and falsely accused of saying or doing things you never said or did; you’ll be asked to leave town, you won’t be granted permission to use local facilities for your meetings; lawsuits will be filed against you to smear your name and take every cent or possession away from you; you’ll be threatened, your property will be vandalized, graffiti will be sprayed on your house and car; you’ll be divorced, beaten up, abused, killed; and many more. Do you still want to become a Christian and serve the Lord?

Also with regard to the persecution of Christians, there is a move among some Christian leaders today who are pressing Washington to exert pressure on the governments of the world not to persecute Christians. Friends, we don’t enjoy seeing anyone being persecuted, especially our brethren. But Jesus said persecution was inevitable (John 16:33). Wolves will attack sheep. Jesus said we’re not supposed to resist evil, that is, resist  evil treatment of ourselves (Matthew 5:39, Romans 12:17-21). THE BEST THING WE CAN DO FOR OUR BRETHREN WORLDWIDE IS PRAY FOR THEM AND ENCOURAGE THEM. WE ARE WORKING AGAINST THE LORD WHEN WE TRY TO REMOVE PERSECUTION FROM THE CHRISTIAN'S LOT OR EXPERIENCE IN THIS WORLD. [487]

FNAre you a disciple of Christ? Jesus makes plain here that disciples will be, or become, like Him (Romans 8:29) and  they’ll be persecuted like Him (Matthew 5:11). Brethren, if you don’t want to be like Jesus or aren’t willing to be  persecuted like Him, you need to read through the Gospel accounts and see what Jesus said about being one of His disciples. A disciple isn’t one in name only, but one in likeness and in suffering. [488]

FNThese twelve Jewish disciples of Christ were persecuted by their fellow Jews because those Jews didn’t regard Jesus as the Christ. In much the same way today, disciples of Christ today are persecuted by their fellow Christians. Why? Because, like the Jews, there are Christians-so-called who don’t like the Jesus we follow. The Jewish leaders rejected Jesus’ Messiahship and teachings. Christians today acknowledge the Messiah, but they reject vital parts of Jesus’ teaching like holiness, separation from the world, faith, Divine healing, divorce and remarriage, the rapture, and second return. Who we believe and what we believe make us prime candidates to be persecuted by those who don’t share the same beliefs. [489]

FNThere are no secrets with God. What you can hide from men you can’t hide from God—that’s one reason why you can’t fool God. He knows it all and He knows all about it. [490]

FNWhat the disciples heard Jesus teach in private they were to publicly proclaim. [491]

FNThe killing or destroying of the soul is used by some to advocate the doctrine of annihilism, that is, the belief that all existence ceases when a person dies: there is no such thing as life after death, hence, no Heaven or Hell as a place of eternal reward or punishment.

In refutation of this error, Jesus taught the reality of life after death, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal punishment or reward (Matthew 22:23-33, Luke 16:19-31, John 5:28-29); He even makes mention of Hell in verse 28 of our text, testifying to the existence of such a place of torment. The killing or destroying of the soul, then, is to be understood as the eternal damnation and torment of the soul in Hell. [492]

FNFarthing, assarion or assarius, translated as a penny or cent. [493]

FNThe prospect of persecution or death is what we would ordinarily consider bad news. But Jesus went on to encourage them. With the bad news came the good news. Brethren, WHEN GOD TELLS YOU SOMETHING THAT DISHEARTENS YOU, DON'T STOP LISTENING! HEAR HIM OUT BECAUSE GOD HAS MORE TO SAY TO YOU! HE HAS GOOD NEWS TO TELL YOU TOO! [494]

FNTo confess,meaning to acknowledge. To deny, meaning to disavow, reject, or renounce. [495]

FNWe find here, perhaps quite unexpectedly to our natural minds, the element of divisiveness and enmity within the family. Jesus came to set a believer at variance against those in his family who do not believe. Does this mean that household salvation isn’t God’s promise or will for our family? No! To the contrary, the promise of Acts 16:31 still stands! Rather, what Jesus is doing here is He’s showing us the extent to which we must be loyal to Him and follow Him: if we choose family over faith, loved ones over the Lord; we end up losing the Lord and life itself. In the natural, our life and family mean the most to us. Brethren, THESE THINGS THAT WE LOVE THE MOST ENDANGER US THE MOST. Why? Because to preserve our life and family involves disavowing the Lord. Denying Him, my friends, is damnable. What Jesus teaches here, then, is we must be ready and willing to give up what means the most to us. More than that, WE MUST CHANGE THE THINGS WE LOVE THE MOST AND PUT THE LORD IN HIS RIGHTFUL PLACE IN OUR LIVES: we must love Him, and Him alone, the most. Our life and family are secondary to the Lord. We can forfeit and lose our life and family, but the Lord we dare not! What is loyalty and faithfulness? It’s when we’re willing to lose everything except the Lord.

Brethren, if ever you’re placed in a position where you have to choose between family and the Lord, between staying with family and following the Lord; the Lord bids you follow Him. This, I know, is an emotionally-difficult decision to make, not to mention the many added hardships involved in being disowned by, and separated from, precious loved ones. But read Matthew 10 and understand in your heart that WHILE YOU LOST A LOT WHEN YOU CHOOSE THE LORD OVER FAMILY, YOU LOSE EVEN MORE WHEN YOU CHOOSE FAMILY OVER THE LORD: you cease being worthy of the Lord. When you choose the Lord, remember the promise and encouragement of your Lord in Mark 10:29-30 and Acts 16:31. You can claim them back and claim them for the kingdom! [496]

FNThere’s a certain danger in looking upon a minister as being nothing more than a man, that is, in failing to look at him in light of who he represents, speaks, and works for—namely, the Lord. Every minister must be discerned, along with his message and miracles. Just because he’s a minister doesn’t automatically mean he’s one of God’s chosen; it doesn’t mean God sent him. Brethren, there are wolves in sheep’s clothing. There are angels of darkness dressed as angels of light. Discern every minister!

Now a true minister of the Lord must be seen as just that—as a representative of the Lord, speaking His Word and working His works. When you see a minister as being the one God sent to you to speak to you and help you, your response to him quits being arbitrary, unimportant, or inconsequential. You take him seriously and you treat him circumspectly. Why? Because GOD'S WATCHING HOW YOU TREAT HIS MINISTERS. AS FAR AS HE SEES IT, HOW YOU TREAT HIS MINISTERS IS HOW YOU'RE TREATING GOD HIMSELF. [497]

FNRepentance has meaning only in the context of sin. You call upon men to repent of their sins and to turn away from them. The message of repentance, then, involves, confronting men’s sins and exposing them as sin. Brethren, men won’t repent if they don’t see anything sinful or wrong about what they’re doing or how they’re living. They have to be told it’s sinful and wrong—and that, my friends, takes courage to say. Jesus sent these men out to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 10:7). How did they proclaim it? By dealing with people’s sins and calling them to repent of those sins.  Friends, DON'T BE AFRAID TO TALK ABOUT SIN. WHEN YOU TAKE SIN OUT OF THE GOSPEL MESSAGE YOU'RE NOT PREACHING THE GOSPEL--NOT THE TRUE GOSPEL. IF YOU'RE NOT CALLING MEN TO REPENTANCE, THEY'RE NOT BEING SAVED. IF YOU DON'T CONFRONT SIN, SIN WILL CONTINUE UNABATED. JESUS' COMMISSION FOR US TO PREACH IS HIS PROHIBITION AGAINST OUR SILENCE WITH RESPECT TO THE SINS OF OUR AUDIENCE. [498]

FNOne of the lame excuses often cited today as to why Jesus isn’t healing supernaturally through the prayer of faith is because Jesus is no longer with us on this Earth: in His absence He’s healing through doctors. But we see in this passage of Scripture that even in Jesus’ absence, the disciples went forth and healed supernaturally. Jesus wasn’t with them when they healed. He was off in some other part of the Galilean province.

The truth that Jesus doesn’t have to be present on this Earth to heal supernaturally is further corroborated by the fact that, just prior to His departure and absence, Jesus gave His disciples the commission to heal. He expected them to continue healing the sick even in His absence! Mark 16:15-18. And they were to heal the same way Jesus Himself healed, that is, supernaturally without the use of medicines or surgeries.


The point is, we can still be healed supernaturally even if Jesus isn’t here today! Why? Because healing isn’t dependent on Jesus being here with us: it’s dependent on the commission He gave us to heal (Matthew 10:8) and it’s dependent on faith (James 5:14-15). [499]

FNHerod Antipas is here referred to as king, but technically speaking, he was never a King. He was a Tetrarch, or ruler of a fourth part of his father Herod the Great’s kingdom. The land or territory that a tetrarch governed was not as vast as a kingdom, consequently, he did not wield as much authority as that of a king. [500]

FNThere is no record of the Baptist ever doing any miracles during his baptismal ministry. The fact that the supposedly-resurrected Baptist was now doing miracles indicates Herod’s belief that miracles are performed by  supernatural beings. [501]

FNAntipas evidently heard a lot of things about Jesus but, up until this time, never got to see Him or have a personal conversation with Him. Why did Antipas want to see Jesus? Perhaps to see what he looked like and thereby verify what he believed, namely, that Jesus was the Baptist resurrected from the dead. Incidentally, since Jesus and the Baptist were cousins, a resemblance between the two of them cannot be ruled out entirely.

Because Scriptures do not record a visit to Tiberias, the capital of Antipas’ tetrarchy, it is altogether probable that Jesus never visited the city during His Galilean ministry, hence, one reason why Antipas never saw Him. If, indeed, Jesus never went to Tiberias, there are two good reasons for it. First, Tiberias was a predominantly Gentile city, built after the manner of Grecian cities and populated with Greeks, Romans, and other foreigners. The bulk of Jesus’ Galilean ministry was directed towards the Jews. And second, Tiberias was built over the site of an ancient cemetery, thus the city was avoided by many Jews who regarded the ground as unclean.

By an irony of history, Tiberias became a center of Jewish learning after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. In fact, the Mishnah and Palestinian Talmud were produced by the rabbinical schools of Tiberias in the third and fifth centuries A.D. It is the only one of nine towns which once graced the Galilean seashore which has survived to this day. Antipas completed the building of Tiberias in 22 A.D. and named the city after the Emperor Tiberius. When Agrippa II came to the throne, he moved the capital back to Sepphoris where it originally was. For another probable reason why Herod never got to see Jesus, see footnote 507. [502]

FNJohn’s disciples came to Jesus and told Him the news of their master’s beheading prior to the feeding of the five thousand (Matthew 14:12-21), at about the time the twelve returned from their evangelistic mission (Mark 6:30-32 with Matthew 14:13). [503]

FNThe King James accurately translates the Greek text of the Baptist’s denunciation: It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife. There are three things about this denunciation that’s worthy of our note. (1) First,  while Antipas may have been legally married by the State of Rome, by God’s law the marriage was unlawful. You see, you may be legally or lawfully married as far as the State is concerned, but that doesn’t mean God sees you the same way. The marriage ceremony doesn’t compel God to ascribe legality to a marriage that His law says is illegal or unlawful. Herod’s marriage was lawful in men’s eyes, but unlawful in God’s.

Second, John uses the present tense to denounce the marriage: It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife. Now marriage is both an act and a state: it begins with the official act—the marriage ceremony—and thereafter it continues as a marital bond between husband and wife. Now John’s use of the present tense in his denunciation indicates the fact that, as far as John was concerned, Antipas’ present marriage to Herodias was unlawful: It is unlawful for you to be married to your brother’s wife. In other words, both the initial act AND the continuing state of marriage were unlawful. If John meant to denounce only the act but not the state he would have said, It was unlawful for you to take your brother’s wife. But John’s use of the present tense serves notice that just because the marriage had taken place with the official consent of the State, this did not legitimize the marital state in God’s eyes: the marriage ceremony did not make what was unlawful, now lawful. The way John saw it, Antipas and Herodias were in disobedience to God’s law, the marriage was unlawful, and it was wrong for Antipas and Herodias to stay married to each other: It is unlawful for thee to have her.

Now this fact has tremendous implications and ramifications for our day and age in which Christians have taken upon themselves the liberty of divorce and remarriage at will. The principle deduced from this denunciation of the Baptist is this. IF THE MARRIAGE (OR RATHER, THE REMARRIAGE) ITSELF IS WRONG, THE MARRIAGE CEREMONY CANNOT AND DOES NOT LEGITIMIZE THE MARRIAGE. WHAT STARTS OUT WRONG, STAYS WRONG: YOU ARE IN A PRESENT STATE OF DISOBEDIENCE TO GOD. IN TODAY'S VERNACULAR, YOU'RE LIVING IN SIN: It is not lawful.

Now in all honesty to the text, it should be noted that John did not denounce the remarriage itself. Rather, he denounced who Antipas married: he married his brother’s wife and that, by Old Testament law, was adulterous, incestuous, and forbidden.

Without getting into a full-fledged discussion of the divorce and remarriage issue, let’s stay with the principle of the text here in Mark 6, that being, if the marriage is wrong it remains wrong and as long as you stay in that marriage you’re living in sin or disobedience to God at that point. The task, then, is to determine by God’s law if the marriage, or rather, the remarriage, is lawful or not.

And third, the Herodian marriage had already taken place but the Baptist nonetheless denounced it. The facts are these: (1) Herod and Herodias were already married; (2) the marriage was wrong; and (3) John denounced it. Now the fact that John denounced a marriage that had already taken place points strongly in favor of the view that John expected Antipas to do something about his marriage—after all, why denounce a marriage if nothing can be done about it?

What could Antipas do? Christians today answer that question in one of two ways. First, he could acknowledge he was wrong and repent of it. John’s denunciation, then, in the framework of this view, was meant to bring Antipas to repentance and nothing more: he could stay married to Herodias if he acknowledged he was wrong to have married her in the first place. But the problem with this view is, by the Baptist’s standard, repentance involved bringing forth fruits of repentance (Matthew 3:8). He told the people to repent, the people asked what they needed to do to show their repentance, and John told them specifically and practically what they needed to do (Luke 3:10-14). While it’s undoubtedly true that John expected Antipas to repent, it’s unlikely that John would have settled for a mere repentance or confession of the mouth.

Another added problem is the question of whether or not repentance legitimizes an unlawful marriage. If the marriage is wrong by God’s law, does repentance make the marriage right? Does it entitle the spouses to remain married to each other?

And this brings me to the second thing Antipas could have done: he could have put Herodias away. Since the marriage was wrong, the only way to remedy or right the wrong was to terminate the marriage by divorce. John’s denunciation, then, in the framework of this view, was meant to get Antipas to see the wrongness of his marriage and to right it by divorcing Herodias. [504]

FNEven though Antipas was a ruler of the Jews, strictly speaking, he was not entirely Jewish. His father was Idumean and his mother was Samaritan. The fact that John the Baptist denounced his marriage to Herodias gives evidence that, as far as John was concerned, the Old Testament Law applied to Antipas and he was expected to abide by that Law. [505]

FNObserved him, meaning Antipas kept the Baptist safe and protected him—most likely from Herodias who wanted John killed. [506]

FNOn several occasions Antipas would have the Baptizer brought before him and he would listen to what John had to say. Antipas enjoyed listening to him. Apparently, he must not have been too greatly bothered or inflamed by the Baptist’s denunciation of his marriage. Since we know that John was imprisoned at Machaerus, it is probable that Antipas frequented his royal palace there.

Some scholars believe that Antipas spent most of his time governing his tetrarchy from Machaerus. If this was indeed the case, it explains to a large extent why Antipas didn’t see or hear much about Jesus: Machaerus was distant from Capernaum and stood at the extreme borders of his tetrarchy in Perea.

Beyond Machaerus lay the desert domain of the Nabatean Arabs under King Aretas, Antipas’ father-in-law by his first marriage.

Additionally, the fact that Antipas called for the Baptist on numerous occasions to listen to him undoubtedly made Herodias all the more urgent in getting rid of the Baptist. Quite simply, John must be killed before he convinces Antipas of the wrongfulness of their marriage! [507]

FNThis party was likely held in Herod’s Palace at Machaerus where John the Baptist was imprisoned. [508]

FNJosephus identifies the daughter of Herodias by Philip I as being Salome (Antiquities, XVIII.5.4). Now Salome broke the customs of the day by dancing in public inasmuch as the daughters of royalty were generally secluded from men. Furthermore, these dances were generally performed by prostitutes who were scantily clad and moved in erotic fashion as to arouse the baser appetites of men. By one estimate, Salome was about sixteen or seventeen when this incident took place. [509]

FNWhen Antipas invited Salome to ask for whatever she wanted, he bound himself with a sacred vow or pledge. The word in the Greek is stronger than just a word or a promise. An oath was sacred. It was like making a promise to God. Hence, the oath was not subject to violating at will. [510]

FNYou can silence every human voice that speaks against you, but you have two more voices to contend with: the voice of your conscience and the voice of the Holy Spirit. The voice of those you’ve silenced and killed still speak to you from the grave: conscience and the Spirit speak the same conviction and rebuke. [511]

FNJosephus, Antiquities, XVIII.7.2. [512]

FNIt was wrong for Antipas to flirt and fall in love with Herodias. It was wrong for him to divorce the daughter of Aretas and marry Herodias. He was wrong for arresting the Baptist and killing him. ONE WRONG ACT OR DECISION, MY FRIENDS, CAN LEAD TO MANY OTHERS. ONE WRONG DECISION CAN HAVE FAR-REACHING, DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES THAT YOU NEVER IMAGINED. [513]

FNEven after Antipas got rid of the Baptist, the Baptist’s voice could not be silenced: Antipas’ conscience bothered and convicted him (Mark 6:16). SILENCING THE SPEAKER, FRIENDS, DOESN'T MEAN THE END OF YOUR TROUBLES OR GUILT. [514]

FNHere are the men who need to guard against forbidden love. (1) Men who equate love with beauty, whose love is conditioned upon a woman’s beauty or physique. Somewhere along the line, a woman will come along who’s more beautiful than your wife. And when she comes, your lust will entice you to her. (2) Men in unhappy marriages, especially those involving a wife who isn’t submissive or is no longer sexually-satisfying. Men, IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR REASONS TO END YOUR MARRIAGE THE DEVIL WILL MAKE SURE YOU FIND AT LEAST ONE. CHANCES ARE, HE'LL GIVE YOU LOTS OF REASONS TO DIVORCE YOUR WIFE. (3) Men who work with women or who aren’t home a lot of the time because of work. There’s nothing wrong with traveling and working. But like Antipas in Rome, it’s easy to flirt when your wife isn’t around to check up on you. And to complicate matters even more, the women of our day—more than ever—are so openly bold and flirtatious that it makes it really difficult for a man to stay pure and faithful. MEN, YOU NEED TO STAY AWAY FROM FLIRTATIOUS WOMEN! [515]

FNJosephus in his Antiquities XVIII.5.2 presents a different picture of Antipas’ reason for arresting the Baptist: “Now when others came in crowds about him (that is, the Baptist), for they were greatly moved by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion (for they seemed ready to do any thing he should advise), thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it should be too late.”

In other words, according to Josephus, Antipas recognized the great power or influence that John wielded over the people. He feared John would use this influence to start a rebellion or insurrection against him. Antipas clearly could not let this happen because Rome would call upon him to explain why he let the matter deteriorate to this point. In other words, he’d be in trouble with Caesar if John ever led a rebellion against him.

Knowing what we know about the Baptist’s character and mission, Antipas’ fear of the Baptist leading a rebellion against him was totally unjustified and wrong. The Baptist would never have done such a thing. Sadly, Antipas didn’t know the Baptist very well: he had no reason to fear. Still, however, the fact of the matter remains this, namely, that the Baptist had great influence over the people. Brethren, WHEN, LIKE ANTIPAS, YOU FEAR, OR DESPISE, OR ARE JEALOUS OF, SOMEONE'S ELSE INFLUENCE, POWER, OR FOLLOWING AMONG THE PEOPLE; YOU'LL END UP LAUNCHING A CRUSADE AGAINST HIM AND YOU'LL END UP DOING SOMETHING UNWARRANTED, UNJUSTIFIED, AND VERY MUCH WRONG.

In light of Mark 6:20, we know that Antipas had several conversations with the imprisoned Baptist. After hearing him, Antipas concluded that John was a just man and an holy one. In other words, while Antipas may have once feared the Baptist as being a political insurrectionist, he no longer feared him as such because he knew John for what he was—not as a trouble maker, but as a good, just, and holy man. Yet, in spite of his enlightened knowledge of John, Antipas kept him imprisoned! Friends, you do not imprison a good, law-abiding citizen: you set him free. Antipas was wrong to arrest and imprison the Baptist. He was wrong to keep the Baptist imprisoned. And these wrongs of his only resulted in the Baptist’s murder. Like I said, ONE WRONG LEADS TO MORE. ONE WRONG CAN HAVE FAR-REACHING CONSEQUENCES THAT YOU NEVER EXPECTED, INTENDED, OR IMAGINED. [516]

FNOn the whole, we know that the fear of man bringeth a snare (Proverbs 29:25). It makes men do things that are wrong. For example, the fear of men will cause you to deny the Lord or disobey the Lord (Matthew 10:28-33, 1 Samuel 15:24). In the present instance, however, we see that the fear of man can, at times, have a temporary staying power against sin or wrong. That is, it can prevent a person from doing something that’s wrong. Antipas’ fear of John kept him from killing the Baptist; he kept John safe because he feared him. In Matthew 14:5 we read, And when he (Antipas) would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. Apparently, in the days following the Baptist’s arrest and before he took a liking to him, Antipas wanted to kill John. But he didn’t. Do you know why? Because he was afraid of what the multitudes would do if the Baptist was killed. The fear of man, I’m saying, can play a vital role in preventing you from doing something that’s wrong.

This fear, however, is only temporary and short-lived. As we see in Antipas’ case, he ended up killing the Baptist—even though he still feared him and the people! Brethren, don’t use the temporary staying power of the fear of man as an excuse to fear men: it won’t last long, it won’t permanently keep you from sin. IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A STAYING POWER AGAINST SIN THAT'S STRONG AND LASTING, FEAR GOD: By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil (Proverbs 16:6b). [517]

FNObviously, you shouldn’t listen to deceivers. This, however, presupposes your ability to discern a deceiver and it presupposes an adequate knowledge of the Word on your part. The truth will stand the test of scrutiny and challenge. It’s the people who don't know or believe the truth who don’t stand up to the challenge of men’s argumentation and debate. Many of them listen to deceivers and end up being deceived. [518]

FNHerod Antipas wasn’t debased or depraved. There was enough decency in him (1) to recognize the fact that John was a good and a just man. At that point, Antipas could tell the difference between right and wrong, Mark 6:20. (2) There was enough decency in him to fear John, Mark 6:20; (3) to keep him safe from the murderous hand of his wife Herodias, Mark 6:20; (4) to willingly and gladly hear the things John had to say to him, Mark 6:20; (5) to be sorry about, and regret, the oath that he made to Salome, Mark 6:26; and (6) to accept responsibility and blame for the Baptist’s death, Mark 6:16. [519]

FNMinistry isn’t all teaching, neither is it all miracles and works. Jesus expects us to do both. He expects us to minister to the spirits, as well as the bodies, of men. Why? Because Jesus, my friends, is interested in people’s spiritual and physical welfare: He’s interested not only in saving them, but in healing and delivering them too! Note in addition that the men whom Jesus sent out both taught and worked miracles. He didn’t send one group to do miracles only (e.g. doctors) and another group to do nothing but teach (e.g. pastors). Those whom the Lord sends out He sends out equipped to both teach and do miracles. [520]

FNWith the death of the Baptist and the conclusion of Jesus’ third missionary tour of Galilee we have the beginning of Jesus’ increasing withdrawal from the multitudes. Up to this point in time He has gone to the multitudes. He still ministers to them, but more and more He withdraws from them and spends quiet time with His Father and the disciples. While Jesus was still staying in Capernaum, He traveled and ministered largely outside that region. First, He went to Bethsaida Julias (Luke 9:10) ; then back to Bethsaida Galilee in the Gennesaret (Mark 6:45, 53); and back to Capernaum (John 6:22-24); then on to Tyre and Sidon (Mark 7:31-37);  Decapolis (Mark 7:31-37); Magadan or Dalmanutha (Matthew 15:39, Mark 8:9-10);  then back to the eastern shores of Galilee (Mark 8:13); to Bethsaida Julias (Mark 8:22); and up towards Caesarea Philippi (Mark 8:27); to Mount Hermon (Mark 9:2); and finally back to Capernaum (Matthew 17:22-24) where Jesus’ Galilean ministry comes to a close. [521]

FNLiterally, to have the time or opportunity to eat. [522]

FNJudging from the Scriptures, there appears to have been at least two towns by the name of Bethsaida that were situated in the vicinity of the Galilean Sea. The first, mentioned in John 12:21, was a Bethsaida of Galilee. This was the hometown of three of our Lord’s disciples, Philip, Andrew, and Peter (John 1:44). The fact that the Gospel writer denotes this town to have been a town of Galilee points strongly in favor of the supposition that there was another Bethsaida in some other Palestinian province. And indeed there was.

Bethsaida Julias was a small town in the province of Gaulanitis, one of the provinces under the tetrarchy of Herod Philip II. Philip took this town, rebuilt and enlarged it to the status of a city, and thereafter called it Julias in honor of the Emperor Augustus’ daughter Julia. Upon his death, Philip was buried in this city. By all of Josephus’ accounts, Bethsaida Julias was located in the northeastern region of the Galilean Sea. This corresponds well with John 6:1 because wherever Jesus and His disciples were (presumably near Capernaum), they sailed across the Sea to get to this desert place in the vicinity of Bethsaida Julias, Luke 9:10. After Jesus fed the five thousand here, He sent His disciples back across the Sea towards Bethsaida in Galilee, Mark 6:45. [523]

FNAs a matter of interest, it should be noted that the seventh or Sabbath day was ordained by God as a day of rest and renewal (Exodus 23:12). In fact, anyone who violated this law and worked on the Sabbath was put to death (Exodus 31:15)! God, friends, made His people rest. He’s concerned about our physical well-being. [524]

FNAside from Jesus’ passion, there are only a handful of incidents, teachings, and miracles that are simultaneously recorded in all four Gospel accounts. Among His miracles, the feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle recorded by all four Gospel writers. Additionally, it should be noted that the numerical figure was only for the number of men that were present (John 6:10); it didn’t include the women and children. In all probability, the loaves and fishes fed at least twice the stated amount. [525]

FNThere are three common responses to the needs of people. (1) Let them take care of themselves! (2) Let someone else take care of them! And (3) Jesus encourages us here to minister to the needs of others. [526]

FNJohn alone mentions the timing of this miracle. Aside from the unmentioned feast of John 5:1, Scriptures mention three Passovers during Jesus’ Earthly ministry: (1) the first when He cleansed the Temple (John 2:13-25); (2) the second, a short time after the feeding of the five thousand (John 6:4); (3) and the third, the week of His passion (Luke 22:15). Up to this point in time, then, Jesus has been ministering for two years. [527]

FNA Roman silver denarius means containing ten and is a reference to the bronze as, a coin with a minted value of 1/10 denarius. A denarius today is the equivalent of about 20¢. Thus, 200 denarii would be about $40. The comparison, however, is somewhat inadequate or misleading because $40 doesn’t amount to much today. A denarius, however, was the equivalent of an average worker’s daily wage. 200 denarii, then, was the sum of money an average person earned after working for 200 days or about 8 months. If an average worker today earned $10 an hour and worked 8-hour days, the sum equivalent to 200 denarii would be $16,000! The fantastic thing about this sum was, it still wouldn’t have been enough to feed the people. [528]

FNThe Middle Eastern loaf is not shaped like our loaf of bread today, but rather is flat and round like a pancake. Barley loaf was the cheapest of all breads and was considered a poor man’s bread. [529]

FNBecause of the problems of transportation and distance, fish would be pickled in a savoury brine if it wasn’t going to be eaten anytime soon. William Barclay in his commentary believes that these fishes were the size of sardines. In other words, they weren’t much. The young boy was willing to give or share what he had. THE FACT THAT YOU DON'T HAVE ENOUGH TO MINISTER TO THE NEED DOESN'T MEAN YOU DON'T HAVE TO GIVE OR CONTRIBUTE TO THE NEED. Had the boy not volunteered his food there would have been no miracle of multiplication that day, assuming no one else had any food on hand. The point? Sometimes you have to be unselfish, humble, and give what you’ve got to see a miracle of multiplication or provision. Brethren, DON'T LET THE SMALLNESS OF THE SIZE OF YOUR PROVISION OR CONTRIBUTION DETER YOU FROM GIVING. When you add it up with the contribution of others, or when you commit it to the Lord’s hands and blessings, a little becomes a lot. [530]

FNThe limited provision and the question indicate that the disciples themselves didn’t bring any food along. They were probably counting on buying food wherever they went. [531]

FNThe prayer commonly prayed in Jewish homes before a meal went something like this: “Blessed art thou, O Lord, our God, which causest to come forth bread from the earth.” [532]

FNIn His lifetime Jesus performed miracles with food and water. In the case of water, He worked a miracle of transformation whereby the water was changed into wine (John 2:1-11). In the case of food, He twice worked a miracle of multiplication whereby the food maintained its essential nature but more molecules were added to it so that the food became an inexhaustible supply (Matthew 14:14-21 and 15:32-39). A similar miracle of multiplication is twice recorded in the Old Testament in the case of a widow’s oil (1 Kings 17:8-16 and 2 Kings 4:1-7). [533]

FNJesus didn’t believe in wasting food. Why, then, did He produce so much? I’d like to think He did it to send them away with food enough to get to their destination. Friends, Jesus wants you to make it home without fainting and famishing (Matthew 15:32).  [534]

FNIt was typical during those days to see Jewish travelers with their wicker baskets. The basket was long and bottle-shaped. In this basket the Jew carried his food. (Remember that the Jews were under strict dietary laws. The laws of cleanness and uncleanness led the Jews to take their food along, especially when traveling through Gentile or desert territory.) The basket was also used to carry some of the things a traveler acquired on his journey. [535]

FNThe Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; {16} According to all that thou desiredst of the Lord thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. {17} And the Lord said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. {18} I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. [536]

FNWhile the people were obviously well-meaning and sincere, we nevertheless see in this instance that there are times when a miracle or a good work does something good for its recipient, but at the same time, it evokes or results in an undesirable side-effect. In this case, the miracle of multiplication was meant to feed the people, not make them crown Jesus King. The fact that a miracle or good work can evoke an undesirable response or side-effect doesn’t necessarily mean we ought not do it in the first place. Each situation must be judged on its own and the Lord’s counsel sought. [537]

FNYou’ve got to remember that there were at least ten thousand people here, clamoring to make Jesus King. When you consider one Man standing against the wishes and shouts of thousands of people, you’ve got to hand it to Jesus: He had power over the people! [538]

FNThere were two recorded storms at sea during Jesus’ ministry: the first in Matthew 8:23-27 and the second here in Matthew 14:24-33. Matthew alone wrote about Peter walking on the water and the disciples’ acknowledgement of Jesus as the Son of God. Mark alone attributes the disciples’ amazement over the calming of the storm to their hardened hearts. And John alone notes the miracle of Divine transportation.

Many have sought to explain away Jesus’ miracle of walking on the water. Most of these say Jesus walked on shore towards His disciples and they weren’t that far from shore themselves. If this was the case, one would still have to explain how Peter walked on water and how he started to sink. If the water wasn’t that deep and there was no danger of drowning, why did Peter cry out for help? Jesus would still have to walk out to Peter to help him. He either had to wade, walk, or swim. Which was it? And if the apostolic boat was just about to shore, why did Jesus and Peter walk back to the boat? Why didn’t they walk the few short feet to land?

John says that when Jesus and Peter got into the boat, the boat immediately reached shore (John 6:21). Matthew wrote that they landed at Gennesaret (Matthew 14:34). If, as theorists and skeptics claim, the apostolic boat was close to land, presumably close to Gennesaret; how could Mark say they were in the middle of the Sea (Mark 6:47). According to Josephus (De Bell Jud. III.10,11) the Sea was 40 stadia wide. In John’s account, the disciples were 25-30 stadia from the eastern shore where they started out (John 6:19). This means the disciples were anywhere from 1¼ to 2 miles from the western shore. How could Jesus and Peter talk to each other from such a distance above the din of the wind and waves? If Jesus was indeed at the shores of Gennesaret, He would have had to walk from Bethsaida in Gaulanitis, cross the Jordan, then walk westward from Chorazin, to Capernaum, and down to Gennesaret, a distance of between 15 and 20 miles in the space of about 9 hours. This, in and of itself, would have been a feat to accomplish by night when people seldom traveled. Brethren, it’s easier to accept the Biblical text as a miracle than wrestle with the many questions and contradictions borne by men’s theories. [539]

FNNightfall came about 6 or 7 PM. [540]

FNAt its widest point the Sea was about 7 miles wide. Since Jesus and His disciples were at the northern end of the Sea, the distance by sea from Bethsaida Julias to Bethsaida in Galilee was between 5 and 6 miles. [541]

FNFrom His vantage point on a mountain several miles away, Jesus saw the predicament His disciples were in. True, it was dark at the time. But since this event took place near the time of Passover (John 6:4), the moon would have been close to a full moon, since Passover generally always coincided with a full moon. Thus, there would have been enough moonlight to observe the disciples’ predicament at Sea. [542]

FNWhen the disciples saw a storm coming and blowing against them, they probably took the sails down and rowed instead. Had the sails remained up, the storm would have blown them back to the eastern shore; or else it would have broken the boat’s mast. [543]

FNEvening was divided into four watches: the first watch was from 6PM to 9PM; the second, from 9PM to midnight; the third, from midnight to 3AM; and the fourth, from 3AM to 6AM. When Jesus came to His disciples walking on water it was about the fourth watch of the night, or between 3 and 6 in the morning. If the disciples left Bethsaida Julias about 6PM when the skies would have begun to darken (John 6:16), this means they were out on the Sea for about 9 hours before Jesus came walking on the water. [544]

FNA phantasm, or a ghost. A ghostly apparition. [545]

FNWriting years after this incident, John notes that at this particular time in the evening Jesus had not yet come to them. The disciples were all alone, battling the storm. [546]

FNLiterally, 25 to 30 stadia. A stadium was about an eighth of a mile. 25-30 stadia, then, would be between 3½ and 3¾ miles. Since the Sea at this northern end was about 5-6 miles wide, the disciples were a little more than halfway through the Sea—and this after about 9 hours of sailing and rowing! Why didn’t the disciples head back to Bethsaida Julias when they saw a storm coming? Why didn’t they head to shore and wait it out? You have to hand it to these men: they persevered in doing what Jesus told them to do! They were doing everything they could to get to Galilee! Thus, we see here again that TRIALS MAY STILL COME EVEN THOUGH YOU'RE OBEYING THE LORD. But don’t worry or doubt. God has a reason for the trial. In this instance, the trial once again showed the disciples Jesus’ supernatural power over the elements and it reinforced their belief in Jesus as the Son of God. [547]

FNNotice that the disciples didn’t stop Peter from getting out of the boat. “There’s a storm out there, the sea is turbulent, the waves are several feet high. Peter, you’ll drown!” No, my friends, they didn’t tie Peter down and keep him from doing something they might have thought was foolish or suicidal. “Peter, why can’t you believe it’s really Jesus out there? It sounds like Him, doesn’t it?” The point? You may not agree with something that a brother or sister is doing in faith, or as an act of faith. You may not have the faith they have. You might think they’re being foolish. But IF THEY'RE BELIEVING AND THEY'VE GOT JESUS' WORD, DON'T TRY TO STOP OR DISCOURAGE THEM. LEAVE THEM GO AND LET IT BE BETWEEN THEM AND THE LORD. DON'T INTERFERE WITH A PERSON'S FAITH! Don’t hinder, forbid, discourage, or dishearten, your brother or sister from believing the Lord and acting on their faith. [548]

FNAlong this line of believing, YOU’RE NOT GOING TO BELIEVE GOD’S WORD AS LONG AS YOU BELIEVE YOUR DOUBTS. Doubt (and the Devil) is saying one thing to you. God’s saying another. You’re hearing two different, contradictory things. Both can’t be true. One of them is telling you the truth. And the other is telling you a lie. So you’ve got to decide who’s telling you the truth and who’s telling you the lie. Is what doubt’s saying to you true? Or is God’s Word true? Has God ever lied? Has He ever said anything to you, or to anyone for that matter, that wasn't true? Has God ever gotten His facts wrong? We Christians believe that everything God ever said to anyone is true. He has never lied or said something that wasn't true (Hebrews 6:18). This being the case, then whoever says anything that contradicts God's Word is clearly, blatantly, and undeniably wrong (Romans 3:4). Friends, to believe God you’ve got to settle the fact that what doubt’s saying to you is wrong, it’s false, none of it is true. AS LONG AS YOU BELIEVE YOUR DOUBTS ARE TRUE YOU’RE NOT GOING TO BELIEVE GOD’S WORD AND YOU’RE DEFINITELY NOT GOING TO GET STRONG IN FAITH. [548a]

FNThere’s great value in having a friend, or friends, close by who believe. Sometimes they make the difference between you living or dying, between you believing and doubting, between you staying fallen or getting back up. Bless the Lord, brethren, for friends who believe! Stay close them. Keep in touch with them. WHEN YOU'RE IN A TRIAL AND STRUGGLING TO STAY AFLOAT, SURROUND YOURSELVES WITH FRIENDS WHO KNOW HOW TO BELIEVE, PRAY, AND PREVAIL. [549]

FNSo why does God allow us to be tried? What’s the purpose of the dreadful things happening to us? Sometimes God allows us to go through trials in order to give us a revelation of Himself. In this instance with the disciples, the miracle of the calming of the storm reinforced their belief in Jesus as the Son of God. [550]

FNRain readily soaks into soil, but not on rock. It flows off of rock and doesn't penetrate it like dirt. This is the word picture that we have here when Mark says that the disciples were hardened. The word refers to a particular kind of rock or stone. Instead of having supple, porous minds and hearts, theirs was like stone. Like rain flowing off the rocks, Jesus' works and words flowed off their minds and hearts without sinking in. Throughout their time with Jesus the apostles were slow to believe or understand. They didn't quite get it right away. They so readily let things pass them by without them taking the time to ponder and think on them.

The disciples were hardened because they didn't consider the miracle of the loaves. That is, they didn't take the time to think on the miracle and let the power behind that miracle, that is, Jesus' power, sink in. They went on to the next scene in their life, the storm at sea, without taking the time to learn from the miracle they had just witnessed. It's like they didn't learn anything from the miracle. Had they pondered on the miracle they would have understood that Jesus had the power to do anything. If He can multiply food, He can calm storms too!

Brethren, take the time to think about all the miracles and answered prayers God has done for you. Like rain soaking into dirt, let God's power and care for you sink deep into your supple hearts and minds and reassure you that there's truly no need for you to fear the storm or the trial: God will help you yet again, just as He helped you all those times before! Past miracles and answers to prayer, I'm saying, strengthens and revives your faith in God. Doubts cannot linger when you recall all the times God helped you before. As Jeremiah puts it in Lamentations 3:21, This I recall to mind, therefore have I hope. Forgetting God's goodnesses and mercies is a breeding ground for doubt. Remembering God's goodnesses and mercies is a breeding ground for faith. [550a]

FNLiterally, they desired to take Him into the boat. In other words, they were anxious to have Jesus and Peter get into the boat. They didn’t want them walking on water all the way to shore. “Please, Jesus, no more accidents or sinkings! Get into the boat!” [551]

FNGennesaret was the name of a town, a lake, and a geographical region or plain.

THE LAKE. Luke 5:1 is the only time the Sea of Galilee is referred to as the Lake of Gennesaret in the New Testament.

THE TOWN was situated on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, close to Capernaum. Its Old Testament name was Chinnereth or Kinnereth. Numbers 34:11, Deuteronomy 3:17.

THE PLAIN of Gennesaret was located along the western coast of the Sea between Capernaum and Magdala. The road to and from Tiberias passed through this Plain. It was about four miles long and two miles wide. The soil was rich and well watered by several springs, as well as streams flowing down from the surrounding hills. Crops were grown in abundance, making it the garden basket of Palestine. So fertile was it that the rabbis spoke of the Plain as being ”the Garden of God,”  or a “paradise.”  This Plain is where Jesus and His disciples landed after the feeding of the 5,000 and a tumultuous trip through the Sea. [552]

FNKraspedon, referring to the fringe or tassel of Jesus’ outer garment or cloak. The same word in Matthew 9:20 is translated hem. [553]

FNA discourse is when a person formally discusses, either in speech or writing, a specific subject matter. That is, attention is given to a single subject as opposed to a wide variety of issues. In the Gospel According to John there are at least fourteen discourses: (1) the new birth (3:1-21); (2) The living water (4:4-26); (3) Jesus’ relationship with the Father (5:19-47); (4) the bread of life (6:26-59); (5 & 6) the origin of Jesus’ doctrine (7:14-29 & 8:14-30); (7) the light of the world (8:12-20); (8)  the true seed of Abraham (8:31-59); (9) the good shepherd (10:1-21); (10) Jesus’ oneness with the Father (10:22-38); (11) redemption through death (12:23-32); (12) the Comforter (14:15-31); (13) the vine & the branches (15:1-27); and (14) Jesus’ coming departure (14:1-6 & 16:1-33).

In John 6, and up to this point in time, we have here for the very first time the clearest revelation that Jesus gave the Galileans concerning Himself as the Son of God. On a previous occasion in Judea He gave the Jerusalemites a similar revelation of Himself as the divine Son of God. (John 5:19-47).

And lastly, Jesus’ discourse here began in Gennesaret and evidently, according to John 6:59, He continued and finished it while He was speaking in a synagogue in Capernaum. [554]

FNLiterally, food in general—not just meat. [555]

FNSphragizo, meaning to set a mark or stamp upon for the purposes of identification, attestation, or preservation (Ephesians 4:30, Revelation 7:3). The Father’s seal upon Jesus was not a physical, visible seal. There were no outward marks or signs upon Jesus’ body that would make Him stand out and be recognizable to all as God’s very special person. The seal, just like the sealing of the believers (2 Corinthians 1:22, Ephesians 1:13), is invisible to the naked, natural eye. The audible voice from Heaven, I believe, can be understood as a form of the Father’s seal upon Jesus: it was Heaven’s attestation of Jesus’ Divine Sonship to the Father (Luke 3:22). Sphragizo can also mean to bind up or shut, hence, to conceal or keep from view (Matthew 27:66, Revelation 22:10). [556]

FNJohn 3:16-18 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. {17} For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. {18} He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [557]

FNIt’s interesting to note that, in reference to the Gospel narratives, Jesus didn’t give a miraculous sign to those who wouldn’t have believed Him anyway: no signs were given to unbelievers or the non-elect. [558]

FNThis is the first of eight I AM’s in John. The other six are: I am the light of the world (8:12), Before Abraham was, I am (8:58), I am the door (10:9), I am the good shepherd (10:11), I am the resurrection and the life (11:25), I am the way, the truth, and the life (14:6), and I am the vine (15:1). [559]

FNSeeing is believing? Not so, according to Jesus! [560]

FNNote in this discourse that salvation of the soul is, in the first place, not a matter of works, but of faith. In the New Dispensation of Jesus’ incarnation and revelation to men, you’re saved by believing on Jesus as the Son of God. And in the second place, salvation is not by national identity or heritage. Just because you’re a Jew doesn’t mean you’re automatically saved and have eternal life. Salvation is by faith. A Jew who doesn’t believe on Jesus, then, isn’t saved, nor is he or she Heaven-bound. [561]

FNJesus cites the prophecy of Isaiah 54:13, And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. [562]

FNEvidently, these people didn’t know the facts concerning Jesus’ conception. They either didn’t talk to Mary about her very special Son, or they didn’t hear about it from the family’s closest friends or relatives, or Mary didn’t talk about the matter to anyone; she kept it a secret. Why? You would think that Joseph and Mary would have publicized the truth about Jesus. This is, after all, what people would ordinarily have done in any case of the miraculous or supernatural—they’d tell people all about it. But they didn’t! This silence leads me to believe that they were under God’s order not to say anything about it to hardly anyone—at least, not until after Jesus had died. Whether this be the case or not, the people’s ignorance of the truth or the facts concerning Jesus’ conception is illustrative of the truth that WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW CAUSES YOU TO ERR IN YOUR JUDGMENT. The religious’ leaders ignorance of Jesus’ place of birth is another example of this truth, John 7:45-53. [563]

FNIronically, the mass and public defection of followers away from Jesus began in His adopted hometown of Capernaum. The people who were the closest to Jesus, at least geographically speaking, rejected Him. Friends, don’t be surprised or disheartened if family, friends, and the hometown crowd end up turning their backs on you. You’re not a failure: you’re a follower! [564]

FNWhile Jesus had His enemies from the very beginning, this discourse on the bread of life is significant in that it marked the beginning of many of Jesus’ disciples turning away from Him. [565]

FNJesus has lost many of His disciples because of a radical revelation of Himself as the Son of God. Now, in the text under consideration, Jesus gives a revelation of uncleanness that’s so revolutionary that it strikes at the very heart of Jewish religion, indeed, at the very heart of Old Testament Law itself concerning  uncleanness. Clearly, the lines are being drawn and people from every quarter of Jewish society must take a stand concerning Jesus and His radical revelations. Either He’s mad or else He’s God. [566]

FNThis is the second time scribes came from Jerusalem to Galilee to check up on Jesus. On their first visit they accused Jesus of casting out demons through the power of Beelzebub which, in turn, led to Jesus’ teaching on the unpardonable sin (Mark 3:22-30). They questioned the power behind Jesus’ supernatural ministry. Now, on this second visit, they questioned Jesus’ respect for Jewish tradition. [567]

FNLiterally, wash the hands with the fist, referring to the rubbing of the fist of one hand against the palm of the other, and vice-versa,  in the process of washing one’s hands. [568]

FNUncleanness was communicable or transferable. If you touched something that was unclean or touched someone who was unclean, you were automatically unclean. For example, while you were walking out in public you might have touched a woman going through her cycle or one who just had a baby. In either case, she’s unclean and by touching her you became unclean. Every Gentile was unclean. The stones and dust that a Gentile stepped on became unclean. Hence, to touch a Gentile or walk the same path he walked automatically rendered you unclean.

So how do you know if you touched someone or something that was unclean? Well, to be sure, you washed anyway. Now the wash that’s used in relation to hands is the Greek word nipto and it refers to the pouring of water over one’s hands. But the wash that’s used in relation to coming home from the market and the washing of cups and pots is baptizo, meaning immersion. In other words, upon returning from market or the public domain, a pious Jew would take a complete bath to become ceremonially clean once again. [569]

FNVessels, like humans, can become unclean when they are touched by an unclean person or when they hold unclean foods. For example, a hollow earthenware vessel could become unclean only when something unclean was poured into it. As long as it held something clean, it could not become unclean even if an unclean person touched it. A flat plate without a rim could not become unclean under any circumstances, but a plate with a rim could. Similarly, flat vessels made of leather, bone, or glass could not become unclean, but hollow vessels of the same could become unclean by the touch of an unclean person or by the storing of unclean foods. The baking boards of bakers could become unclean, but not those of the ordinary householder. A three-legged table could become unclean. If it lost one or two legs, it was not susceptible to uncleanness. But if it lost all three legs, it was susceptible to uncleanness. If a bed became unclean and one of its short sides (the head or the foot) was removed along with two legs, it remained unclean. But if a long side was removed along with two legs, it became clean again. Anything metallic could become unclean except a door, a bolt, a lock, a hinge, a knocker, and a gutter. Wood used in metallic utensils could contract uncleanness, but metal used in wooden utensils could not  Ad infinitum. For further examples of cleanness and uncleanness, see The Mishnah, Sixth Division, Tohoroth, The Laws of Cleannesses. [570]

FNHupokrites, an actor on a stage. In those days, actors wore masks over their faces, hence, they pretended to be someone they really weren’t. A hypocrite, then, is an actor or pretender. In a religious sense, a hypocrite is a counterfeit and dissembler: he’s not for real and he gives a false appearance of himself in order to conceal his true nature, thoughts, motives, etc. When I was graduated from Guam’s George Washington High School in 1973 our commencement speaker said something I shall never forget. It has to do with being real and not being a hypocrite. He said, “Don’t be what you isn’t, just be what you is. For if you is what you isn’t, then you isn’t what you is.” [571]

FNThe Jews paid lip service to the Lord. They said their prayers and sang their hymns. But their heart was far from God. What does that mean? It means their heart wasn’t set on God. During Isaiah’s day, their heart was set on evil and mischief. They did what they wanted to do, not what God told them to do. Isaiah put it this way: This people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but they have removed their heart far from me (Isaiah 29:13a). During Jesus’ day, the hearts of these Pharisees and Scribes were far from God, they weren’t set on God.

What were they set on? Not on evil, but on the traditions of their elders. You see, friends, no matter how pious or worshipful you may think yourself to be, when your life centers around the traditions of your elders (that is, on men’s teachings), God sees your heart as being far removed from Him. You see, since you have only one heart and can set your heart on only one thing, then to set your heart on men’s rules and regulations means you’ve removed your heart from God. You can’t set your heart on men’s rules without first taking it off of God. And when you take your heart off of God, your worship and piety are in vain. [572]

FNMaten, meaning in vain, fruitless, without profit or success, to no avail. To do something in vain means your efforts, however noble or sincere, are a waste of time: they won’t do you any good. It’s like bailing the ocean out with a spoon, counting the grains of sand upon the beach, digging for gold with a toothpick, or making a dead man talk. Try all you want: it won’t do you any good. While these Jewish leaders worshipped God, their worship was worthless, it didn’t do them or God any good.

Now what made their worship vain? The fact that they taught the doctrines of men instead of the doctrines of God. You see, the rules and regulations of the rabbis weren’t the rules and regulations of God. God didn’t establish those rules. They were men’s rules. Like these rabbinical rules, men’s doctrines are the things men teach that God doesn’t. They are the things men believe and espouse, but have no Biblical support. What are some examples of the doctrines of men? The belief that the baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues aren’t for today; God isn’t healing supernaturally today, homosexuality is okay, doctrine isn’t important, the Bible isn’t infallible or inerrant, and more.

Now that we know what the doctrines of men mean, let’s get back to this matter of one’s worship being in vain. Jesus said these religious leaders’ worship was in vain because they were teaching the doctrines of men instead of the doctrines of God. In other words, they weren’t teaching the right thing, they weren’t teaching the Word, and that’s what made their religion or piety useless. Friends, like these Pharisees, WHEN YOU DON'T TEACH OR FOLLOW THE WORD OF GOD, WHEN YOU BELIEVE AND FOLLOW THE DOCTRINES OF MEN; IT MAKES YOUR CHRISTIANITY WORTHLESS--IT'S NO GOOD--NOT IN GOD'S SIGHT.

I know you pray, sing praises to God, and go to church. Do you want to know if God accepts your worship? All you have to do is look into your heart and ask two questions: Where is my heart? and What do I believe or espouse? Friends, IF YOUR HEART IS BENT ON YOUR SINFUL, SELFISH WAYS LIKE THE PEOPLE IN ISAIAH'S DAY, OR IF YOUR HEART IS FULL OF MEN'S DOCTRINES; THEN YOUR WORSHIP OF GOD IS IN VAIN, God doesn’t buy or accept it, and it isn’t doing you any good. Look once again at Mark 7:7 and remember that He said it, not me. In vain!

Now another thing that I want you to see in verse 7 is the fact that from their perspective, the Scribes and Pharisees were worshipping God. But they didn’t know that their worship of God was in vain. They were worshipping God, thinking they were hunky-dory, right on with God—without knowing that God wasn’t accepting their worship. Do you know what? It took Jesus, the prophet, and the Word to tell them and let them know their worship was all in vain.

Friends, it takes the Lord, the Word, or a preacher from God like Isaiah to tell you you’re wasting your time. You may not like hearing it, but if they never told you, chances are, you would never have known your worship of God was vain all along. PRAISE GOD FOR THE PEOPLE WHO TELL YOU THE TRUTH AND TELL YOU THINGS YOU DON'T WANT, OR DON'T LIKE, TO HEAR! [573]

FNThe traditions and doctrines of men sometimes don’t make any sense! Take the washing of hands for an example. If the water in a vessel was so polluted that it was unfit for cattle to drink, the water obviously would not be suitable for the ceremonial cleansing of the hands. But if this same water was on the ground, it could be used for hand washing! If there’s a doubt about the water being clean, it’s automatically considered unclean. But if there’s a doubt about the water being unclean, it’s automatically considered clean! The blank spaces in a scroll of Scripture that’s above and below the writing is unclean, so also the space at the beginning and the end of the scroll. But to top it all off, all the Holy Scriptures render the hands unclean! [574]

FNAphiemi, to lay aside in the sense of leaving behind, forsaking, walking away from. For these religious leaders the tradition of the elders had become so important that they forgot all about the Word—that is, they put it aside and concentrated on what the venerable rabbis  said. In this unwritten, unspoken way, obeying what the rabbis said became more important than obeying what God said. [575]

FNKrateo, to lay hold of and not let go; to hold fast. The Scribes and Pharisees weren’t going to let go of their revered rules and regulations! In order to hold to their tradition they had to let go of, or forsake, the Word of God. Friends, you can’t have it both ways. TO HOLD ON TO GOD'S WORD YOU'VE GOT TO LET GO OF MEN'S DOCTRINES AND TEACHINGS. BUT IF YOU INSIST ON HOLDING ON TO WHAT MEN HAVE TAUGHT YOU OR ARE TEACHING YOU, YOU CAN ONLY DO THAT BY GIVING UP THE WORD. You can’t hold on to God’s Word and men’s word at the same time!  [576]

FNAtheteo, similar in many respects to akuróo in footnote 581. The idea is one of setting aside and regarding as invalid. Athetéo amounts to rejection of a person and his message. The same word is used in John 12:48 where Jesus said, He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him. It’s also used in Luke 10:16 in relation to rejecting the message of the Lord’s messengers: He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.  In other words, the religious leaders were rejecting the Word because they wanted to keep the tradition of their elders. Once again, let me say, you can’t hold on to God’s Word and men’s word at the same time. Believing and following men’s word is a rejection of God’s Word. That’s how God sees it. [577]

FNExodus 20:12, Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. In responding to the criticism of the religious leaders, Jesus first quotes from the Prophets to establish the charge against them that they are teaching men’s doctrines, not God’s doctrines. Then He quotes from the Law to show how their devotion to men’s doctrines leads them to disobey God’s doctrines. [578]

FNExodus 21:17, And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death. [579]

FNIt is clear from Jesus’ use of Corban in relation to the fifth commandment that He understood the command to honor one’s parents as being more than just respecting or obeying them: it also means to help them, especially when they need it or ask for it. Refusing to help them or contribute to their financial/material need is tantamount to not honoring them. In other words, you’re breaking the fifth commandment and  disobeying the Lord when you have the means, but choose not, to help your parents. [580]

FNAkuroo, to annul, abrogate, or deprive of authority. The Corban teaching of the rabbis annulled God’s law. It invalidated the law, made it null and void, rendered it no longer applicable or binding. In other words, you don’t have to obey it.

The problems with men’s traditions and doctrines are: (1) it becomes a law higher than God’s law; it supercedes the Bible. You become so engrossed in men’s laws that you forget God’s laws. It now becomes more important to obey men’s laws than God’s laws; (2) it sets the Bible aside and renders it void or no longer applicable. It’s still a good Book, but it’s no longer valid or binding; (3) it finds or creates way to disobey or disregard God’s laws. You see, Corban was a creative device used by the rabbis to get out of honoring one’s parents. Think of it: rabbis were teaching the people to disobey God’s law about honoring their parents! Friends, if you don’t want to obey God’s Word, you’ll find a way to get out of it—all you have to do is look to men’s doctrines and traditions. Men’s doctrines and traditions will get you out of having to obey God’s Word! They are an escape from devotion and obedience to God’s Word; (4) the doctrines of men make your worship of God in vain and unacceptable to God. and (5) they take you farther away from God. In God’s words, their heart is far from me. [581]

FNKoinoo, meaning common or profane, as opposed to being consecrated, set apart, or holy unto the Lord. The word is used to refer to ceremonial or ritual uncleanness; to defile, pollute, or make unclean. Persons, food, places, and objects could all be unclean and they could convey uncleanness to others who touched them or ate them. With reference to our text in Matthew 15 and Mark 7, dietary uncleanness is in full view.

Now according to Old Testament Law, the Jews were forbidden from eating certain animals or foods because God deemed or pronounced them unclean. (1) The liver and kidneys (Exodus 29:13); (2) Animals killed by other animals, or animals that died of natural causes, could not be eaten (Leviticus 17:15); (3) Likewise, scavenger animals  or birds such as a vulture, eagle or owl (Deuteronomy 14:11-20); (4) Sea animals not having fins or scales, such as the otter, clam or squid, were prohibited (Leviticus 11:9-12); (5) Plant-eating animals that did not both chew the cud and had parted hooves were forbidden; this included the coney, hare, and swine (Leviticus 11:1-8); (6) All flying insects with the exception of locusts and beetles were unclean (Leviticus 11:22-23); (7) A kid boiled in its mother’s milk could not be eaten (Exodus 23:19).

In addition to these and other dietary restrictions, the Lord prohibited His people from eating certain things—not because they were unclean, but rather, because they belonged to Him and were to be sacrificially offered to Him. For example, (1) The Jews could not eat blood or anything cooked in blood (Leviticus 17:10-14); (2) Animal fat (Leviticus 7:22-25); and (3) The firstfruits of plants (Exodus 34:26). For a list of other specifically-mentioned animals and plants that were forbidden, see Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. [582]

FNTo date, Jesus gave the Jews three doctrines that were most revolutionary, radical, and controversial in His day. (1) It was lawful to do good works on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-12); (2) He was the Son of God come down from Heaven (John 6:32-65); and (3) Unclean foods enumerated in the Old Testament were no longer unclean (Mark 7:14-23). [583]

FNThat is, to a Jew it sounded as if Jesus was contradicting the Law. But to a Christian on this side of Calvary, we know that Jesus was not contradicting the Law per se, but rather, was abolishing it. This He did legally at the cross (Colossians 2:14), but He taught it and practiced it principally before the cross (i.e. He didn’t teach the washing of hands before eating).  [584]

FNHard, that is, if you don’t first believe who Jesus said He was. If you believe Jesus is the Son of God sent from Heaven by God to speak on God’s behalf, then you have the Divine, authoritative end of an Old Testament dispensation and the ushering in of a New dispensation based on the heart. But if you don’t believe Jesus is the Son of God, then you’ll see Him as a deceiver and heretic because He defied and contradicted the Scriptures. You’ll reject Him—which is what the religious leaders did. Friends, IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE ONE THING JESUS SAID, THIS UNBELIEF MAKES IT HARDER FOR YOU TO BELIEVE OR RECEIVE OTHER THINGS JESUS SAID. BELIEVING DOESN'T GET ANY EASIER ONCE A LITTLE BIT OF UNBELIEF SETS IN.

Now when we look at the things Jesus said to the leaders we see that He first claimed to be the Son of God (John 2:16 with 5:17-18); then He claimed to have the power or authority to forgive sins (Luke 5:17-26); after that, He did away with the Sabbath laws or traditions (Matthew 12:1-12); and soon thereafter He claimed to be casting out demons by the power of God (Matthew 12:22-37).

Now in this latest encounter with them He did away with the dietary laws and rabbinical traditions regarding uncleanness. You see, Jesus just kept on saying things that were terribly incredulous and heretical to these religious leaders.

The point? Jesus doesn’t make believing easy for His critics and antagonists. Watch out, brethren, for unbelief because a little unbelief opens the door to more unbelief and it gets harder and harder to believe the other things that Jesus said.

Now unbelief not only opens the door to more unbelief, but it also has a long-lasting, generational effect. Consider brethren that after two thousand years, the Jews still do not eat rabbit or pork, oysters or clams. They still don’t consider all foods clean because they still reject Jesus as being the Son of God. You see, the unbelief of the Rabbis is passed on to the fathers and the fathers pass it on to the sons and daughters so that the unbelief of the first century is still present in the twenty-first century. Unbelief lasts a long time and it goes a long way! And the only time that cycle of unbelief is broken is when the children or the parents, by God’s grace, choose to take the Scriptures at face value and believe what the Word says concerning Jesus and His doctrines. PARENTS, TAKE HEED AGAINST UNBELIEF BECAUSE UNBELIEF IS PASSED ON TO THE CHILDREN, THUS ROBBING THEM OF THE PROMISES, THE POWER, AND THE LIBERTY THAT ARE TRULY FOUND IN CHRIST JESUS ALONE. [585]

FNPeople are likened unto plants. The Father’s planting has reference to salvation and God’s work in the life of a believer. Note from our Lord that it’s possible for religious leaders—even the most esteemed and pious of them—not to be saved or be a product of the Father’s planting. Brethren, be wary of religious leaders who don’t believe or receive Jesus’ words and who are critical of the things Jesus taught. Remember, just because they’re religious figures or authorities doesn’t mean they’re saved or speaking for God. They’re blind and therefore not to be followed. Friends, when you’re sightseeing or traveling through unfamiliar territory you don’t look for a blind guide to lead you along. Follow the same principle or guideline in the spiritual realm. Unbelief blinds the eyes. Don’t follow blind guides! They can’t take you where you want to go (i.e. the kingdom of Heaven) and the consequences are disastrous! In Jesus’ words, both shall fall into the ditch. [586]

FNThe disciples didn’t wash their hands before eating, yet they didn’t know why they didn’t need to do it. The fact that they asked Jesus to explain why gives indication that Jesus hadn’t yet taught them concerning uncleanness or defilement. They didn’t wash because they  were either not pious Jews (which is to say they didn’t hold strongly to the tradition of the elders), or else they were only copying Jesus’ example without asking Him about the need for washing. [587]

FNAphedron, meaning waste-bowl;the equivalent of a privy or toilet. [588]

FNKatharizo, to cleanse or purify. The body takes what it wants or needs out of the foods we eat and excretes the rest, thereby having a cleansing effect.

It should be noted that since the early days of the Church, scholars such as Origen and Chrysostom interpreted the Greek text of verse 19 in such a way that Jesus’ statement ended with draught and included a passing statement by Mark that Jesus, at the time of this Pharisaic encounter, declared all foods clean. Verse 19, then, is said to read, Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught. (In saying this Jesus declared all foods clean.) This rendering of the verse is adopted in the NASB and NIV. In other words, long before Peter and the Church got the revelation that all foods were clean (Acts 10) Jesus in His lifetime declared and taught it to be so. While the Jews and Jewish Christians in all good probability at first had a hard time believing what Jesus said here in Mark 7 about all foods now being clean, Peter nonetheless reiterated by Divine confirmation and revelation from God Himself. Yes, Jesus was right! All foods are now clean! [589]

FNIn looking at the things that defile, it becomes readily apparent that all these things begin with evil thoughts and end up in evil actions like theft, adultery, and murder. WHAT'S INSIDE ENDS UP OUTSIDE. THE THINGS WE THINK OR FEEL IN OUR HEART END UP MANIFESTING IN THE THINGS WE DO WITH OUR HANDS AND BODY. Now brethren, look at the list carefully and note the many evil acts our Lord says are defiling. The point is, GOD'S CONCERNED ABOUT OUR HEART AND WHAT'S INSIDE OUR HEART. HE LOOKS ON THE HEART. BUT, BRETHREN, HE ALSO LOOKS AT THE THINGS WE DO AND THE WAY WE LIVE.He looks at what’s inside, yes. But don’t stop there. He looks at what’s outside too!

You see, so many of God’s people will rationalize or minimize their sinful actions by comforting themselves with the notion that God sees their heart: they love Him, they believe in Him. They’re hoping that the good things God sees in their heart will blind His eyes to the bad things they’re doing. They think God doesn’t care about what they do or how they live—all He cares about is what’s in their heart.

Friends, God does care about what’s in your heart, but He also cares about the externals. He’s concerned about the things you do, the way you behave, the way you live. He doesn’t ignore your conduct or lifestyle. If, as you say, God’s concerned only about what’s in your heart, then you’d better be concerned about your sins because sinful actions and conduct come from sinful thoughts in a sinful heart. Yes, God may see some good things in your heart. But believe me, He sees more than just the good: He sees the evil thoughts that inspire you to sin. You can’t get away with sin just because you’ve got some good in your heart! There’s evil there too and God’s concerned about that! It’s time for you to get cleaned up! [590]

FNIn this way, our traditions are Biblically-based to some extent. Just as the tradition of the elders regarding uncleanness was based in some way, however remote, to Moses’ Law; so the traditions or convictions we observe and preach are in some way based on the Word. That is, we have chapter and verse for the doctrines we believe, the things we do, and the way we live. In the example just cited, the Biblical basis for not eating a neighbor’s peaches is Exodus 20:15. [591]

FNCan you imagine how big and heavy our Bibles would be if Jesus specifically said everything that needed to be said? With the changing of the times and the variations of culture, our lack of understanding would be greatly compounded. For example, if the prohibition against abortion was specifically given in Scripture, Joshua and Caleb wouldn’t have understood it because they didn’t have abortions in the desert. If rock-n-roll was part of Scripture, Peter and Paul wouldn’t know one thing about it because that brand of music didn’t come into existence until the 1950’s. Do you see what I mean? IN ORDER TO SAY EVERYTHING GOD WANTED TO SAY, HE SAID IT IN PRINCIPLE AND HE LEFT IT TO EACH CULTURE AND GENERATION TO APPLY SPECIFICALLY IN A SCRIPTURALLY-SILENT WAY. [592]

FNThe Law mandated the washing of hands as a matter of ceremonial cleanness in only one instance: it applied only to the priests—not before they ate, but rather, before they entered the Tabernacle-Temple precincts to minister before the Lord (Exodus 30:17-21). [593]

FNThere are several other things that we want to say concerning The Subtle Dangers of Piety and Zeal, but they are better understood and appreciated within the context of our Lord’s denunciation of the Scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23. {Click here to read our lord’s denunciation for a continuation and completion of this theme.} [594]

FNThis encounter with the Syro-Phoenician woman is significant in that we find Jesus traveling into Gentile territory and ministering to a Gentile woman. Since this event took place on the heels of Jesus’ teaching regarding true defilement, it’s quite possible that this encounter with the Gentile woman was designed to show the disciples in a graphic and practical way the truth that the Gospel will one day be extended to the Gentiles too. But in order for Jewish Christians to go among the Gentiles they must first divest themselves of the prevailing Judaic or rabbinic notion of uncleanness. No, they will not contract uncleanness by going to the Gentiles and ministering to them. Uncleanness is a matter of the heart, not a matter of stepping on Gentile dust or touching a Gentile person. [595]

FNThe verb in the Greek is anachoréo and it literally means ‘to go backwards’, hence to retire or withdraw. We have here, then, Jesus deliberately and intentionally withdrawing Himself from the multitudes so that He and His disciples could spend some time alone. Indeed, not many Jews would follow Jesus into Gentile territory. Mark confirms this desire for privacy by writing that Jesus entered into an house and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid (Mark 7:24). [596]

FNTyre was located about 40 miles NW of Capernaum and was situated on the Mediterranean coast. It had one of the greatest harbors in ancient times and its sailors—along with those from Sidon—were the first ones to navigate using the stars as their reference points. In time, Tyre became a great merchant nation. Its principal claim to history was when its King Hiram supplied Solomon with cedars from Lebanon to be used in the building of the Temple (1 Kings 5:1-12, 9:11-14). He also supplied Solomon with a lot of gold.

Sidon was about 20 miles NE of Tyre, situated likewise on the Mediterranean coast with a splendid harbor. As far as we know, it was the oldest capital of the Phoenician Empire. In fact, Phoenicians were commonly called Sidonians. Among King Solomon’s many wives were women of Sidon who appeared to have introduced Solomon to the worship of Ashtoreth, the Sidonian goddess of fertility and love (1 Kings 11:1-5). Jezebel, Ahab’s infamous wife and devout proponent of Baal worship in Israel, was a daughter of Ethbaal, King of the Sidonians (1 Kings 16:29-33).

Together, Tyre and Sidon were cities of Phoenicia which, in Jesus’ time, were a part of Syria. Today, they’re a part of Lebanon. Additionally, Syro-Phoenicia is to be distinguished from another Phoenicia in North Africa known as Libo-Phoenicia or Carthaginia. [597]

FNWhen Joshua took possession of the Promised Land, these Phoenician cities were allotted to the tribe of Asher, Joshua 19:24-31. The Asherites, however, failed to subdue them, consequently, they failed to take full control of their allotted inheritance (Judges 1:31-32). [598]

FNHow did this Gentile woman know anything about Jesus’ healing power? The Gospel writers tell us that people from all over Syria came to hear Jesus and to be healed by Him (Matthew 4:24, Luke 6:17). It could be this woman was one of these who came to Galilee to see Jesus, or else heard of Him from those who went to see Him. You have to hand it to this Gentile woman: she knew who Jesus was, O Lord, thou son of David. Brethren, WHEN YOU KNOW WHO JESUS IS AND WHAT HE HAS POWER TO DO, YOU'LL COME TO HIM FOR THE HELP YOU NEED. [599]

FNThere are three Greek words used in the Gospel accounts to refer to demonic oppression. (1) The primary and most-often used word is the one used in this Scripture text, daimonízomai, meaning to have, or to be possessed with, a devil. (2) Ochléomai is used only in Luke 6:18 (also in Acts 5:16) and means to vex, harass, or torment. (3) Seleniázomai is also used twice, in Matthew 4:24 and 17:15, and means moonstruck. This was an ancient way of denoting those who were lunatick. [600]

FNIn the overall story of this incident both Matthew and Mark use the word thugáter, meaning daughter. Mark, however, goes on to specify in Mark 7:25 that the woman’s daughter was a  thugátrion, meaning a little or a young daughter. From this verse, then, we see that it’s possible for young or little children to be demon possessed (see also Mark 9:21). [601]

FNLiterally, it is not good. [602]

FNPutting Matthew’s and Mark’s account together, this is what we get. Jesus arrived in Phoenicia and secured lodging in a house. A Gentile woman heard that Jesus was in town and she went before Him to petition for the deliverance of her daughter. Jesus didn’t answer her. She continued beseeching Jesus for help. He still didn’t answer her. The disciples asked Jesus to send her away: her persistence was wearing them out! Jesus spoke to her for the first time and told her that He was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. She ignored His statement and continued to ask for help. Jesus then said, Let the children first be fed: it’s not good to take the children’s bread and give it to the dogs.  She answered and said that even the dogs eat of the children’s crumbs. Jesus marveled at her faith and commended her. He spoke a word of healing and told the woman to go her way. She came home and found the girl delivered, lying on a bed. [603]

FNHe ministered the Gospel to the Samaritans, with whom Jews have nothing to do (John 4). [604]

FNSpeaking strictly within the confines of God’s test or of Heaven’s silence to your prayer. Asking for the same thing over and over again can be a manifestation of unbelief. That is, you’re constantly asking God for the same thing because you don’t believe that God has heard or answered you. The problem here is not one of Heaven’s silence, but rather, your unbelief. God has heard and answered you! But you don’t believe He has! So you keep on asking. In this instance, you’re praying without faith.

At the same time, however, asking for the same thing over and over again can be a manifestation of a faith that refuses to be denied. In this instance, persistence in asking, as God sees it, is great faith.

Now because repetition in prayer can be motivated either by unbelief or by faith, it’s necessary for you to know your heart and know whether faith or unbelief is in operation. If unbelief is at work you can quit praying because all the praying in the world isn’t going to get you an answer or a manifestation from God: God requires faith for an answer to prayer. If, on the other hand, faith is at work, rest in that faith and quit asking for something that God has already given you by faith.

However, if you sense in your spirit that God hasn’t heard or answered you, then this silence of Heaven is simply a test of your faith and it’s time to persist and keep on asking. As with the Canaanite woman, GOD WILL LET YOU KNOW WHEN HE'S HEARD AND ANSWERED YOU. THERE'LL BE A RELEASE, OR PEACE, IN YOUR SPIRIT AND YOU'LL FEEL THE BURDEN OR NEED LIFTED FROM YOU. [605]

FNGod has an appointed time for the manifestation of all things promised and claimed. We read in Galatians 6:9 that in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. All due season means in the Greek is, the right time. In other words, God has a right time for the manifestation of those things that you’re believing Him for.

Now God’s due season, I believe, takes into account several different factors. He sovereignly decides when He’s going to manifest an answer to prayer, but I believe that in deciding when that time shall be, He takes several things into consideration—things that pertain directly to you. For example, (1) God takes your endurance into account.  1 Corinthians 10:13 promises God won’t allow you to be tried beyond your ability to endure. God decides what kind of trial you’ll go through, He decides how long that trial will last, and He decides it with your endurance in mind. In other words, He won’t let the trial go one second more than what you can endure. God, I am saying, times the manifestation or the ending of a trial to coincide with your endurance.

(2) God takes your persistence of faith into account.  He knows exactly when you’re going to need a manifestation, He knows exactly when you’re going to press in for one, and He times His manifestation to coincide with your persistence of faith. You see, your persistence doesn’t cause God to push the manifestation ahead of His planned schedule. Persistence isn’t rushing God or pressuring Him into doing something a lot sooner than He had anticipated. No one’s going to get God to move apart from His appointed season. Unbeknownst to you, your persistence coincides with God’s appointed time. Obviously, if your persistence for a Now! doesn’t coincide with God’s time, He wouldn’t manifest what you’re believing Him for—at least, not Now! He’ll stick to His time-table and in the mean time you’ll eventually give up persisting and go back to patiently waiting on God. In other words, you’ll know—either in your spirit or through the school of hard knocks, when you’re being impatient or when you really do have the faith to believe for a Now!  

And (3) God takes into account your subsequent failures and restoration to faith.  That is, sometimes after you’ve claimed a promise by faith, you doubt and quit believing. Naturally, the Lord isn’t going to manifest the answer to your prayer now just because you initially prayed it in faith. Remember. It takes both faith and patient endurance to receive the manifestation (Hebrews 6:11-12). God will manifest the answer after you get back in faith. God’s due season, I’m saying, takes into account all the time you’re going to waste because of unbelief, doubt, or a lack of endurance. [606]

FNThe greatness of the woman’s faith lay in the fact that she knew Gentiles didn’t have to wait for later to partake of deliverance: they could have it now. GREAT FAITH, FRIENDS, IS THE REALIZATION THAT SOME THINGS DON'T HAVE TO DRAG ON FOR A LATER TIME: THEY COULD BE HAD NOW. [607]

FNThe word that is most often used with respect to the mute is kophos, one who is speechless or unable to talk.This same word is also used with respect to the deaf. Hence, kophos refers to someone who is either deaf or dumb. The word that’s used here, however, is mogilálos and it’sused only once in the entire New Testament, here in Mark 7:32. Mogilálos means to speak with difficulty, to have a hard time speaking, a stammerer. The man in this text, then, is not mute at all. He can talk, but not plainly, clearly, or correctly. Got a speech problem? Know someone who can’t talk very good?  Jesus can remedy that! [608]

FNJesus’ spittle figures prominently in three recorded healings: the first is recorded here in Mark 7; the second in Mark 8:22-26 with the healing of the blind man; and the third in John 9:1-7, also of a blind man. [609]

FNOur Lord spoke Aramaic which was the language the Jews of His day spoke. Other Aramaic words used in the New Testament include: Talitha cumi (Mark 5:41), Eloi Eloi, lama sabachthani (Mark 15:34), Maranatha (1 Cor. 16:22), and Abba (Romans 8:15). [610]

FNDesmos, meaning a chain, shackle, band, or string .Obviously, the bond that kept this man’s tongue tied up was not a physical one, but rather, a spiritual one.

Now here’s a question for you. How can speaking a command in faith remedy a physical abnormality in the man’s vocal apparatus? Doesn’t medical science teach us that physical abnormalities are remedied through physical, or surgical, means? Brethren, you’ll understand the effectiveness of faith’s commands a whole lot better when you understand that many physical abnormalities or symptoms are, in reality, the work of demons. That is, a devil either possesses a person and has his hand on an affected part of that person’s body so that that part cannot function, as in the case of the dumb demoniac in Matthew 12:22; or else a devil attacks and afflicts the body and binds it with some kind of spiritual bond without resorting to actual demonic possession, as in the present case. Can surgery or medicine break a spiritual bond? No way! Medical science can alleviate the symptoms and improve the condition. But only a word of faith, or a word from the Lord, can break the Devil’s bond and cure the afflicted person entirely. [611]

FNLame, cholós, crippled in feet. Physical abnormality or deformity in the feet. [612]

FNMaimed, kullós, similar to cholós, denoting those with crippled feet or hands. [613]

FNJESUS’ MINISTRY IN DECAPOLIS: He healed the Gergesene demoniacs somewhere in the vicinity of Gadara-Gergesa (Mark 5:1-20); Jesus returned to Decapolis after visiting Phoenicia and conducted a great healing campaign (Matthew 15:29-31); on this same occasion He fed the four thousand (Mark 8:1-9). [614]

FNThe welcome reception that these people gave Jesus stands in marked contrast to a previous time when Jesus was in Decapolis. At that time, the Gergesene demoniacs were delivered and, because of the incident with the swine, the townsfolk asked Jesus to leave their vicinity (Mark 5:1-20). Why was the reception much more different this time? Either Jesus wasn’t near Gergesa; or else the demoniac-now-delivered’s testimony of Jesus’ compassion and power changed public sentiment toward Jesus. Brethren, DON'T BE SILENT ABOUT WHAT GOD'S DONE FOR YOU! You may not see any far-reaching consequences of your testimony, but it has a lasting effect on some and it draws them to the Lord. [615]

FNThree things are worthy of our note. (1) First, the man was brought to Jesus. We see here the value and importance of bringing our needy loved ones and friends to Jesus for help. Some go to the Lord on their own accord, like the woman with the issue of blood or blind Bartimaeus. But others don’t. In some instances, like the Roman centurion’s servant, they can’t because they’re too sick to pray or fight the good fight of faith (Matthew 8:5-6). Others are too oppressed to ask the Lord for deliverance (Matthew 15:22, 17:14-15). I shudder to think what would have become of these hapless individuals had they not been brought to Jesus for help. THERE ARE TIMES, MY FRIENDS, WHEN HELP FROM ABOVE COMES THROUGH THE INTERCESSION OF LOVING, CARILY, FAMILY AND FRIENDS. Brethren, bring them to the Lord; your prayers help! The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16b).

(2) Our Lord honors what little faith you may have. You see, this man was deaf. He could not hear the Gospel that gives rise to faith (Romans 10:17). How could he have faith if he couldn’t hear the Word that gives rise to it? Thankfully, the man could see. He might have seen Jesus heal others. Or his family and friends might have communicated with him through signs and writing that Jesus was a Healer. Whatever the case might be, what this deaf man saw would have been enough to generate faith in his heart that Jesus could do something for him. Friends, you don’t need a lot of faith to get healed. You don’t need to hear a lot of sermons, see a lot of miracles, or wait a lot of years, to get faith in your heart. IF YOU HAVE FAITH RIGHT NOW, NO MATTER HOW SMALL IT IS, YOU CAN BE HEALED BECAUSE JESUS SAID IT ONLY TAKES FAITH AS A GRAIN OF MUSTARD SEED TO DO THE IMPOSSIBLE (Matthew 17:20).

(3) Lastly, we see in this text that Jesus wants you every bit healthy and whole. The man had a speech impediment. He wasn’t mute. He could talk, but he couldn’t talk very good. Many commentators and lexicons define the Greek word used here as stammerer. You see, even if you could talk poorly, howbeit stammeringly, Jesus wants you to talk clearly. You can see, but not very clearly. Friends, Jesus wants you to see clearly. You might not be deaf, but at the same time you can’t hear very good. Friends, Jesus wants you to hear clearly. Brethren, believe the Lord for healing and health, believe the Lord for the perfect or proper functioning of your body, because this is God’s will for your life. HE WANTS YOU TO BE HEALTHY AND WHOLE (3 John 2). DON'T ACCEPT OR SETTLE FOR LIFETIME BODILY IMPAIRMENT OR IMPEDIMENT! [616]

FNLike the feeding of the five thousand before this, this miraculous multiplication of bread and fishes took place in a desert region somewhere in Decapolis. [617]

FNWords reveal what’s in your heart (Matthew 12:34). IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHETHER OR NOT YOU TRULY BELIEVE, STOP AND LISTEN TO THE THINGS YOU'RE SAYING. You see, the disciples’ question betrays their incredulity. “You can’t feed thousands of people in a desert where there’s no food!” “You can’t be healed because this is terminal!” “If doctors can’t do anything for you, then God can’t either!” People let the bleakness of their circumstances stop them from believing for a miracle.

Not only that, but people soon forget what God can do. You see, the disciples’ question shows they hadn’t yet learned the lesson Jesus demonstrated a few weeks ago when He multiplied the loaves and fishes for the five thousand at Bethsaida Julias. They forgot! Brethren, forgetting is a robber of faith. Remember past miracles and answers to prayer because they’ll keep you from fear and doubt when another trial arises. Remember. WHAT GOD DID ONCE BEFORE HE CAN DO AGAIN! Nothing’s too hard for God to do and there’s nothing in the Book that says God can’t do the same thing twice. There’s nothing in the Book that says what God did for someone (the five thousand) He won’t do for another (the four thousand).

(1) Remembering past miracles and answers to prayer is one thing you can do to stay in faith. Here are some others things that will help. (2) Keep your eyes on the Lord, on His power and His love; (3) meditate on the promises and confess them; (4) don’t look at circumstances; (5) guard your mind from thinking in terms of the worst or the negative; (6) stay away from doubters and the fearful; (7) fellowship with like-minded believers who will stand with you in faith; (8) come against spirits of fear, unbelief, or condemnation—spiritual desmos or bonds that keep you from believing;(9)  listen to good faith sermons; (10) praise the Lord, put a good worship tape on and sing!; (11) pray for yourself in the Spirit—that kind of prayer builds you up (Jude 20); and (12) lastly, remember that God and the angels have you in their hands, you’ll be alright! [618]

FNJesus’ question must have taken the disciples by surprise because they clearly didn’t plan to feed the multitude. Some don’t reach out to help others because they think they won’t be of much help: they don’t have what it takes, they don’t have the money, the resources, the knowledge or expertise, to help. In a word, they have only seven loaves! But, brethren, what you do have is sufficient for the Lord’s use! He’s interested in what you have: How many loaves have ye? DON'T SIT STILL AND WAIT FOR OTHERS TO DO THE HELPING. TAKE YOUR LOAVES TO THE LORD AND ALLOW HIM TO USE YOU TO HELP OTHERS. [619]

FNWhen Jesus fed the five thousand He asked the disciples a similar question and told them to go and check (Mark 6:38). Well, the disciples must have fanned out through the crowd and asked because the only food they could find was the loaves and fishes that a young boy had (John 6:9). On this occasion, however, with the feeding of the four thousand, the disciples’ ready answer to the Lord’s question is a good indication that the seven loaves belonged to the apostolic company: it was what they had for themselves, not what they found amongst the multitude. Brethren, sometimes you don’t have much. But do you know what the Lord has you do at times? He asks you to share it or sacrifice it for the benefit of others. Don’t worry, friends. The same Lord who takes care of others will take care of you. He’ll make sure you get fed too! [620]

FNJesus had them sitting down and prepared to eat before there was any food to feed them with. Clearly, this was an act of faith and it demonstrated Jesus’ intention to feed them. The point is, FAITH ACTS IN ADVANCE OF A MIRACLE: IT ACTS KNOWING THAT A MIRACLE WILL ENSUE. [621]

FNThe seven baskets that’s used here and in Mark 8:19 is spurís, which was a large basket or hamper. Some of them were big enough to hold a grown man! When Paul escaped over the walls of Damascus in a basket, he did so in a spurís (Acts 9:25).Now this large hamper is different in size to the smaller basket that’s used in Mark 8:20. When Jesus fed the five thousand, the left-overs were collected in twelve kóphinos baskets, which, according to Dake in his Annotated Bible, held about two gallons each. [622]

FNIn the parallel account in Matthew 15:38, Matthew makes mention of the fact that the four thousand number figure did not include women and children. Taking the women and children into account, it would not be unreasonable to conclude that there were probably at least eight thousand people present at this feeding. [623]

FNIt’s instructive to note that Jesus ministered many times out in the open, away from cities and towns. He ministered by the seaside, on the mountainside, and out in the desert. Always, the people thronged and followed Him. It’s testimony to us that, while we must go where the people are at to minister to them, if we’ve got a message and miracles, people will come to us no matter where we are and no matter where we go. [624]

FNWhat did Jesus do with the leftovers? Since He had the leftovers collected, it’s obvious that He didn’t want the food to go to waste: He didn’t collect them only to see them spoil or rot. Hence, I’d like to think that Jesus gave the leftovers to the people so that they’d have something to eat along the way. [625]

FNThey might have made arrangements for someone to have the apostolic ship moored at a specific place in Decapolis, but the likelier thing is Jesus and His disciples hired a ship to take them across the sea. This was a common practice in those days. [626]

FNMagdala, the birthplace or hometown of Mary Magdalene, was located on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee between Capernaum and Tiberias. The village is also known as Magadan. In the parallel account in Mark, the evangelist writes that Jesus and His disciples set sail to the region of Dalmanutha. Not much is known about this village, but apparently it was closely situated to Magdala. Both villages are mentioned only once in the New Testament and that is in the Biblical texts presently under consideration. [627]

FNUp to this point in time, the Pharisees and scribes were Jesus’ primary antagonists and critics. Now, for the first time, the Sadducees joined with the Pharisees in a mutual dislike of Jesus.

Under ordinary conditions, such a religious alliance would not have been possible since the Pharisees and Sadducees differed on several substantial articles of faith and practice: (1) The Pharisees accepted the validity and authority of the Oral-Scribal Law, while the Sadducees rejected both and accepted only the written books of the Old Testament as authoritative and binding. (2) The Pharisees believed in angels and the resurrection of the dead; the Sadducees didn’t. (3) The Pharisees were a religious party interested in the preservation of Judaism; the Sadducees were a priestly party, but also an aristocratic, political party who didn’t object to the Hellenization of the Jews—in fact, they accepted and cooperated with their Roman overlords. And (4) the Pharisees, like most the Jews, looked for a coming Messiah. The Sadducees, however, weren’t interested in Messiah. Instead, their time was spent on the accumulation of wealth and the preservation of the power and privileges bestowed upon them by Rome.

In looking at these differences between the Pharisees and Sadducees we see two groups of Jews whose beliefs and practices were diametrically opposed to each other, hence, making any sort of alliance unlikely. But, as we see in the present case, a mutual opposition to Jesus unites enemies and makes strange bedfellows out of them. In this alliance we see a widening circle of religious opposition to Jesus: first it was just the Pharisees and the Scribes (Mark 2:1-6), followed by the Herodians (Mark 3:6), and now the Sadducees. In short, these Jews who wielded some measure of power over their people were now set in opposition to Jesus. The commoners were the only ones who followed and held Jesus in high esteem. [628]

FNPeirazo, meaning to tempt or test. In the vernacular, they came to Jesus to pick a fight with Him and find something wrong with Him. [629]

FNSee footnote 627. [629a]

FN”A red sky at night is the shepherd’s delight; a red sky in the morning is the shepherd’s warning.” “When the sunset is clear, there’s nothing to fear. When clouds move down and turn dark gray, one may expect a stormy day.” [630]

FNThe only sign He gave them was the sign of Jonah that He had already given them on a previous occasion. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish three days and three nights, so He would be three days and three nights in the grave (Matthew 12:39-40). True to form, when the sign came to pass, the religious leaders didn’t buy it or believe it (Matthew 28:11-14). Friends, IF YOU'RE DETERMINED NOT TO BELIEVE, SIGN OR NO SIGN, YOU WON'T BELIEVE! [631]

FNIt’s interesting to note in all of Jesus’ encounters with the religious leaders that He answered their questions or criticisms without walking away. Sometimes, He even initiated confrontations with them by deliberately healing in the synagogue or on the Sabbath in their presence or view. But the one thing that He refused to do was give them a sign, at least, of the supernatural sort. As I said, THERE ARE TIMES WHEN YOU RESPOND TO YOUR CRITICS AND THERE ARE TIMES WHEN YOU DON'T.

So how do you know when you should respond and when you should retreat? I’m not sure there are any guidelines I can give you on this matter. You see, if we base our response on the likelihood of our critics believing what we say or what we do (i.e. we won’t respond to them unless we believe there’s a good likelihood they’ll believe us); then we see in Jesus’ responses that His answers to their questions or His miracles on the Sabbath did not bring His critics to faith. They still didn’t believe Him. On the other hand, if we insist on not ever answering our critics because they’re not going to believe us anyway, then we see Jesus contradicting this policy. There were times when He answered His critics, knowing full well that they wouldn’t believe Him no matter what He said or did. So why did He do it? Perhaps to make a statement, to declare a doctrine or to reveal a truth. But to give them a sign they wanted to see? Never. Brethren, wait on the Spirit to direct your steps. [632]

FNHoráo, to discern clearly, to watch closely and look with a keen eye. [633]

FNProsécho, to pay close or careful attention, be cautious, be on guard against, look out for. Brethren, YOU CAN'T BE DISCERNING IF YOU'RE CARELESS, RECKLESS, OR UNOBSERVANT. DISCERNMENT REQUIRES CLOSE AND DELIBERATE SCRUTINY, it presupposes you know what you’re looking out for and you know how to recognize it when it comes your way. IF YOU'RE NOT INTERESTED IN LOOKING AT THE ISSUES AND PAYING CLOSE ATTENTION, YOU'RE NOT DISCERNING. Discernment requires present examination and prior knowledge. [634]

FNMatthew writes about the leaven of the Sadducees; Mark, about the leaven of Herod. There is really no clear contradiction between the two because the Sadducees were closely aligned with the Herods who ruled over them. You see, the Sadducees were an aristocratic party. They were the small handful of wealthy Jews whose chief preoccupation was the accumulation of wealth and the maintenance of power. What power? Well, these Sadducees were also priests. They were aristocratic priests, consequently, they wielded power by virtue of their office. But their greatest power came from the Herods because it was the Herods who appointed the High Priest and the High Priest was effectively the civil or religious leader of the Jews. Almost invariably, the Herods chose a Sadducee to be the High Priest. The Sadducees, then, were dependent upon the Herods for their power. And like the Herods, they weren’t opposed to the Hellenization of the Jews. These aristocratic priests weren’t interested in the religion of the Jews as much as they were interested in getting along with the Herods and the Romans who insured their power, wealth, and status among the Jews. The leaven of Herod, then, may well be taken to mean that doctrine which emphasizes material wealth and earthly power, as opposed to the doctrine which emphasizes the kingdom of God and of Heaven.

Incidentally, with the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. the Sadducees disappeared from history. Their existence was owed and devoted entirely to politics and when those politics were destroyed by the Romans the Sadducees ceased to exist.

The Pharisees, on the other hand, were devoted to Jewish religion, practice, and belief. When the Jewish nation crumbled, the religion and the Pharisees lived on. Judaism, then, and rabbinical Judaism at that, owes its historical preservation to the Pharisees who survived the many political turmoils of the Jews. [635]

FNThe warning was rather apropos because at this point in time, the Jews and the disciples in particular were still a part of Judaism and were under the authority of Judaism’s leaders—namely, the Pharisees, Scribes, and Sadducees. Believers in Christ had not yet become a religion separate from Judaism. Therefore, as long as these disciples were under the authority or leadership of these men they were to be on guard against what these men were teaching. [636]

FNIt’s enlightening to look at this scene from another angle. The disciples arrived in Gentile territory. They had no food to speak of. What were their options? (1) They could have sailed back to Capernaum to get more food; (2) they could ask the Lord to multiply their one loaf; (3) they could go into town and look for a Jewish baker from whom they could buy food; or (4) if all else fails, they’d have to buy food from the Gentiles. Well, since the apostolic company didn’t turn back to Jewish country, we see that really wasn’t an option for them. And in view of the disciples’ lack of faith, we can rule out option 2; the disciples weren’t thinking about Jesus multiplying their one loaf of bread. Furthermore, because they were concerned about not having brought along any food, it seems apparent to me that the disciples didn’t place much hope in finding a Jewish place in town where they could buy food. The chances of them finding kosher food wasn’t that great and that’s why they were concerned about their one loaf. So much for option 3. Now the striking thing about option 4 is, the disciples weren’t thinking about buying food from the Gentiles. You see, if this was something they could do without batting an eyelid or without having any kind of conscientious objection, they wouldn’t have been concerned about the lack of food. It wouldn’t have been a big deal to them because they could always go into town and get some, even from a Gentile baker.

Now let’s backtrack to Jesus’ encounter with the Pharisees and Scribes in the matter of the tradition of the elders, Matthew 15:1-20 and Mark 7:1-23. One of the salient points in Jesus’ doctrine concerning uncleanness was the fact that defilement wasn’t a matter of foods, but rather, of the heart. What you eat doesn’t defile you: it’s what’s eating you, it’s the evil things in your heart that defiles you. In a word, food doesn’t defile you. Food cooked and handled by Gentiles doesn’t defile you. And because it doesn’t, then it’s alright for you to buy food from the Gentiles and eat it! You won’t be defiled!

Judging from the disciples’ concern, however, it seems to me that the disciples didn’t fully embrace this aspect of Jesus’ teaching. They weren’t ready to buy and eat food that was prepared by Gentiles. As I said earlier, if this wasn’t a problem to them, if they didn’t have a conscientious objection about buying food from the Gentiles, they wouldn’t have been concerned about not having brought any food along. The point I’m trying to make is, the disciples weren’t ready to buy and eat bread that their countrymen would decry as being unclean.

This might well have been why Jesus said what He said about the leaven of the Pharisees. What did the Pharisees teach? Among other things, they taught that bread cooked, handled, and bought from a Gentile was unfit to eat because it was unclean.

Not so, according to Jesus. In other words, “Disciples, don’t be concerned about not having any food. We can get some from the Gentiles if need be. Don’t be concerned about Gentile bread. It’s not unclean! Instead, beware of Pharisees’ teaching because it’ll stop you from eating what I say you can eat.”

With this in mind, I’d like for you to consider how our Lord treated these disciples who weren’t ready or willing to walk in the light of His teaching regarding uncleanness and food. If you’ve grown up all your life with men’s doctrine, it takes some people some time to get rid of that leaven and start walking in the light of God’s truth. That’s not necessarily a matter of unbelief, although it certainly can be. As often as not, however, it’s a matter of getting God’s truth settled in your heart. This takes time.

Take Peter for an example. Some eight years after Jesus taught concerning uncleanness, he still wouldn’t eat unclean meat (Acts 10). It took a Divine revelation for him to get it settled.

Some doctrines, I’m saying, take time to get settled in the heart. The Lord understands this and He was very gentle with His hesitant disciples. Do you know what Jesus did? Instead of forcing His disciples to buy bread from the Gentiles and eat it, He, in essence, offered to multiply their one loaf. “Men, if food’s a problem, I can multiply your loaf like I multiplied the loaves for the five and the four thousand.” Why didn’t Jesus say, “Don’t worry, men, we’ll get some food from the Gentiles”? You see, Jesus would rather perform a miracle of multiplication than force His disciples to do something that they weren’t ready to do, namely, eat Gentile bread.

Brethren, BE GRACIOUS AND CONSIDERATE TOWARDS THOSE WHO STILL HAVE PROBLEMS WALKING IN THE LIGHT OF GOD'S TRUTH in a certain area or matter. LEGALISM, CRITICISM, AND INTIMIDATION AREN'T THE WAY TO GET PEOPLE TO EAT GENTILE BREAD. If they’re God’s, they’ll come around. It takes time. In the meantime, be patient and loving.

And by the way, don’t lower the standard and preach “You can’t eat Gentile bread!”  Preach the truth, “You can eat Gentile bread!” Don’t water it down for those who don’t agree with it or practice it. It’s the truth that will set God’s people free to eat Gentile bread (John 8:32). Some day. [637]

FNMark alone records this incident. It bears the peculiar distinction of being the only known or recorded instance where a person was not fully healed with the first touch, prayer, or command of faith. It took a second touch before the man’s sight was fully restored. [638]

FNThat is, Bethsaida Julias, near where Jesus fed the five thousand. See footnote 523. These two excursions of Jesus to Bethsaida, His following trip to Caesarea Philippi, and possibly His mountain transfiguration, are the only known or recorded times that Jesus went into the lands under the tetrarchy of Herod Philip II, namely Gaulanitis. Other provinces in his tetrarchy were: Iturea, Trachonitis, Auranitis, and Batanea. They were inhabited mostly by Greeks and Syrians. Very few Jews lived there.

Philip II was without doubt the best of Herod’s sons and his rule was marked by tranquility and justice. He married Salome, the daughter of Herodias. Salome, however, later left him. In 34 A.D., after a thirty-seven year reign, Philip II died childless in Bethsaida Julias and was buried there. He was the only one of Herod’s sons who died in possession of his tetrarchy: both Archelaus and Antipas were deposed and banished by Rome. Upon his death, his territory was made a part of Syria and then later given to his nephew Agrippa I. [639]

FNThe fact that a group of people brought a blind man to Jesus indicates that Jesus was a recognized figure in town with a reputation for healing. Bringing the blind man out of town appears to have been a deliberate attempt on Jesus’ part to avoid the publicity and multitudes that would surely result if the townsfolk witnessed this healing. The fact that Mark alone records this healing incident leads me to believe that not much of anything happened here. Jesus didn’t stay long in Bethsaida. Had there been an extended stay and healing campaign here the other evangelists would surely have taken note of it in their Gospel accounts. [640]

FNThis is the second-recorded time that Jesus used His spittle in healing. See footnote 609. [641]

FNThe fact that the man knew what trees looked like gives some indication that he was not blind from birth, but rather, had lost his sight perhaps through an injury or disease. [642]

FNJesus’ command for the man to go home without going back into the city is another proof of Jesus’ supernatural knowledge of men: He knew where this man lived and that he didn’t live in town. [643]

FNCaesarea Philippi takes it place in Biblical history as the site (1) where Peter confessed Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God; (2) where Jesus first talked about the church;  and (3) where Jesus first predicted His coming death and resurrection. [644]

FNCaesarea Philippi was located about twenty-five miles north of Bethsaida Julias, about a two days’ journey. It was situated at the southern slope of majestic Mount Hermon and was the northernmost limits of Palestine, with Syria just beyond it. During Old Testament times it was a stronghold of Baal worship (x-ref. Judges 3:3, 1 Chronicles 5:23). The Syrians erected no less than fourteen temples to Baal in this region!

Now there was also a great hill close to Caesarea that had a very deep cavern. According to the Greeks, this cavern was the birthplace of the god Pan, the god of nature. For this reason, Caesarea was formerly known as Panias, the city of Pan.

In 20 B.C. the entire region was placed under the dominion of Herod the Great through the grace of the Emperor Caesar Augustus. Herod enlarged and beautified Panias and erected a great temple of white marble for the worship of Caesar. When the territory came under the tetrarchy of Philip II, Philip enlarged the city even more and changed its name to Caesarea Philippi to distinguish it from the Caesarea on the coast of the Mediterranean. When Philip died, the city eventually passed to Agrippa II who renamed it Neronias in honor of the Emperor Nero. The name, however, never stuck and the city continued to be known as Caesarea Philippi.

Today, the ancient city is a small village known as Banias. It’s significant to note that of all the places Jesus could have chosen to ask His disciples who they thought He was, He chose a place that was dedicated to the worship of Baal, Pan, and Caesar. In the midst of men’s false religions, the deity of Christ is proclaimed! [645]

FNAccording to Luke, Jesus had been in prayer before He asked His disciples this question (Luke 9:18). Apparently, it was a matter of prayer on Jesus’ part that His disciples know exactly who He was. Not to our surprise, Peter stepped forward with the correct answer! Jesus prayer was effectual! Brethren, WHEN JESUS PRAYS FOR YOU, HE WILL GET RESULTS! [646]

FNPeople had many varying opinions of who Jesus was. Some thought He was John the Baptist raised from the dead. Herod Antipas, you will remember, was of this persuasion (Matthew 14:1-2).  [647]

FNAccording to Malachi 4:5, Elijah would return in the last days to herald the coming of Messiah. While some didn’t see Jesus as Messiah, they nevertheless believed He was Messiah’s herald. To this day, the Jews would leave a chair vacant for Elijah  when they observe the Passover and they also fill a wine cup reserved especially for him. They’re waiting for Elijah’s appearance, for then Messiah was soon to come. [648]

FNAccording to the Apocrypha, the prophet Jeremiah rescued the ark and the altar of incense out of the Temple before the Jews went into exile and reportedly hid them in a cave on Mount Nebo. Before Messiah comes, Jeremiah would return and retrieve the holy ark and altar and restore them once again to the Jews (2 Maccabees 2:1-12). In 2 Esdras 2:18 God is said to promise, For thy help I will send my servants Isaiah and Jeremiah.  In this sense, Jeremiah too was commonly believed to be a forerunner of Messiah, just like Elijah. [649]

FNOne of the prophets does not refer to any prophet contemporaneous with Jesus because, at this particular time in history, aside from John the Baptist, there were no prophets in Israel. The statement is best understood from Luke’s account in 9:19 where Luke explains that some people thought Jesus was one of the prophets raised back to life. As far as some people were concerned, Jesus could be Isaiah, Malachi, Daniel, or some other prophet raised from the grave. For those who believed this of Jesus, Jesus to them would have been a walking miracle! Imagine, after hundreds of years decayed in the grave, the prophet has come back to life!  No matter who the people thought Jesus was, proclaiming Him to be a prophet was indeed a high compliment. [650]

FNWhy was the question necessary or important? Assuming the disciples give the right answer, that answer will become the basis or foundation upon which Christ would build His Church. [651]

FNPeter’s recognition of Jesus’ Messianic identity wasn’t something he got on his own. Rather, it was something that God Himself revealed to him. Brethren, WE NEED GOD'S HELP TO KNOW OR SEE THE TRUTH. One of the reasons why God gave us the Holy Spirit is so that He can teach us the truth (Nehemiah 9:20, John 14:26, 1 John 2:27). If you don’t know what the truth is, ask God to show it to you: it’s His will for you to know the truth! [652]

FNAs I said previously, this dialogue between Jesus and His apostles is significant in that it’s the first time Jesus says anything about a church. While church is used a lot in the epistles, it’s used only three times in the Gospel accounts: all of them in Matthew and all of them uttered by our Lord (Matthew 16:18, 18:17).

What is a church? The word ekklesía means a called out assembly, congregation, or meeting. It was a common word in Jesus’ day and it didn’t have any religious connotation to it. Any kind of meeting would be an ekklesia. A meeting of the court, or of the community elders, or of the town’s women, would all qualify as an ekklesia. With Jesus’ use of the word, however, ekklesia becomes the body of Christ’s believers assembled together to worship and learn of the Lord. Hence, the local church. On a wider note, ekklesia encompasses the entire body of believers worldwide, Mattew 16:18, Ephesians 1:22-23, 5:23. [653]

FNIn ancient times, the gates of the city or town was the place where the elders met to hear various cases presented to it by the townsfolk and where they pronounced judgment (Deuteronomy 21:19, 25:7). It was, in this sense, the place of government. Understood in this light, the gates of Hell refer to the powers or government of Satan. No matter what Satan does to, or against, the Church, he will not prevail! The Church will triumph! What Christ Himself built will not be destroyed by Satan! [654]

FNThe notion of binding and loosing was a common notion among the Jews and it denoted the power to allow or forbid. To bind something was to declare it forbidden, while to loose it was to declare it allowable. Binding and loosing was used primarily in a legal or judicial sense whereby a rabbi would pronounce judgment concerning the legality or permissibility of a certain action when weighed against the law. In coming days Peter would be given the task of pronouncing judgment on a wide variety of issues relating to the Church, the Gospel, and the souls of men. In examining the words of our Lord spoken at a later time in Matthew 18:18, we see that this power to loose to bind was not given exclusively to Peter, but also to the church and its individual believers.

As a further note, it should be noted in the Greek text that the verbs shall be bound and shall be loose used with respect to Heaven are perfect passive. The verse, then, is properly translated, Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. In other words, the things that we as believers allow or forbid are already allowed or forbidden in Heaven; our pronouncements will be in harmony, not in violation, of those made in Heaven. [655]

FNCardinal Gibbons, Faith of Our Fathers (Baltimore: John Murphy & Co, 1876), p. 95. [656]

FNAntiquities, Book XV, 2.2. Romanists understand the Babylon of 1 Peter 5:13 as an apocalyptic reference to Rome, much as Rome is referred to as Babylon in the Apocalypse, or Revelation, of John. To interpret the Petrine Epistle’s Babylon in this fashion, however, is extraordinary, seeing that the Epistle is in no way apocalyptically written, therefore, it is in no way to be apocalyptically understood or interpreted. [657]

FNThe approximate date varies among scholars. Some place it as early as 48 A.D. Assuming that Paul’s visit to Jerusalem cited in Galatians 2 was made at the time of the Jerusalem Council, the date of that Council would then be 54 A.D. [658]

FNAfter this Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, Peter is never again mentioned in the Book of Acts. In keeping with Luke’s design to show the growth and spread of the Gospel from Jerusalem to all Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost ends of the Earth, it is highly unlikely that Luke would fail to tell the story of the Peter’s work of bringing the Gospel to Rome if that was indeed the case as the Roman Church alleges. [659]

FNThese Patriarchs were the bishops of the Roman Empire’s great capitals. They were the Bishop of Rome, the Bishop of Alexandria, the Bishop of Antioch, the Bishop of Constantinople, and the Bishop of Jerusalem. Among the Patriarchs, the Church at Rome was the solitary western church; the four others were regarded as churches of the East. When the Roman Empire transferred its capital from Rome to Constantinople in the East (henceforth the Byzantine Empire and Church), this created a spiritual rivalry between the Western (Roman) and Eastern (Constantinople) Church, which, in part, led to Rome’s concerted attempt to establish her dominance over the Eastern—indeed, over the entire—Christian Church, hence, the papacy. [660]

FNDeuteronomy 32:4, 2 Samuel 23:3, Psalm 18:2, are just a few examples. Paul speaks of the Old Testament Rock as being Christ Himself in 1 Corinthians 10:4.

Additionally, it’s interesting to note that of all the Gospel writers, Matthew alone records the rock in this incident at Caesarea Philippi. Mark, who was a close associate and understudy of Peter, did not include Jesus’ petrastatement to Peter in his Gospel account; neither does Luke, who was writing to Gentiles, who, in turn, would not readily understand the Biblical implications of petra. The Jews, on the other hand, to whom Matthew was writing would have had no problems understanding petra. If we interpret or understand this Gospel to the Jews in the mindset of the Jews we would not err in ascribing a different meaning to the term. [661]

FNAmong the Church Fathers, there were not a few who vacillated in their interpretation of the rock. Jerome (ca. 340 - 420) was one of these who at one time saw the rock as being Christ, then at another time saw it as being Peter. Augustine (ca 354 - 430), the great Catholic theologian, at first saw the rock as being Peter, but towards the end of his life he retracted his position and proclaimed Christ to be the rock. Philip Schaff has a very readable history of the papacy in his History of the Christian Church, (Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977), Volume 2, pages 154-175; and Volume 3, pages 263-314. [662]

FNIt is Christ Himself who builds His Church and He builds it on the foundation of His identity as being the Christ, the Son of God. Any denomination, church, or religion that disavows the deity of Jesus Christ is not built by Christ, does not belong to Christ, hence, will ultimately be prevailed against by the gates of Hell. The only Church that will stand and last through the tests of time is that Church with the Divine Son of God at its foundation. [663]

FNPeter’s confession of Christ at Caesarea Philippi marked the first time that Jesus explicitly told His disciples about His coming rejection, death and resurrection. From this time forth, Jesus began to talk more and more about what awaited him in Jerusalem. [664]

FNThis is a reference, not just to the religious leaders of the Jews, but more so, to the Great Sanhedrin. [665]

FNLiterally, God be gracious or merciful to you. From Peter’s point of view, God’s mercy or grace meant He would preserve Jesus from suffering such fate. [666]

FNSkándalón, meaning ‘a stumblingblock; something that causes someone to stumble or fall. [667]

FNPhronéo, meaning ‘to think or to use one’s mind’. Translated, You are not thinking about the things of God, but rather, about the things of men. [668]

FNNotice in the text that all Jesus tells them is that He’s going to be killed in Jerusalem and rise again. There are no other details. He doesn’t explain why He has to die. On three subsequent occasions, however, Jesus goes into a little more detail: (1) in Matthew 17:22 He tells them He’s going to be betrayed; (2) in Matthew 20:17-19 He tells them He’s going to be condemned by the Sanhedrin and be crucified by the Romans; and (3) in Matthew 20:28 He speaks of the redemptive nature of His death. The revelation of His death, I’m saying, was progressive. He let His disciples know more as time went along. Knowing that they would have a hard enough time receiving the revelation of His death, He saved the details for later. Brethren, God knows how to break the bad news to us—piece meal so that we don’t go to pieces. [669]

FNThis change of mind and abandonment of a formerly-held, mistaken belief took place over a period of time. For the next year or year and a half, on at least three occasions, Jesus continued to hammer away at the realization of what would befall Him in Jerusalem. Even after His crucifixion, some of His disciples still didn’t understand the necessity of Jesus’ death. But Jesus appeared unto them and explained everything from the Scriptures (Luke 24:13-27). Brethren, don’t be disheartened when you try to minister the truth to somebody and they just don’t see it. For some people, it takes time. Just keep on doing what Jesus did: He kept giving them the Word, He kept talking to them about it. THE WORD OF GOD, EVER SO EFFECTUAL, WILL ACCOMPLISH ITS MIND-CHANGING WORK IN THE HEARTS OF GOD'S PEOPLE. (Isaiah 55:11). [670]

FNWhy, like Peter, do we resist God’s will and forbid it from coming to pass? (1) Well, like Peter, we resist God’s will because we have a genuine concern for a loved one. We don’t want them to go through a trial. (2) Sometimes, we resist God’s will because of ignorance. Just as the disciples were ignorant of the suffering Messiah spoken of in Scripture, so our objections to God’s will are at times based on our ignorance of Scripture. We forget that God ordains His people to go through trials. (3) Unbelief can be a motivating reason why we resist God’s will. And (4) our resistance to God’s will can be act of outright rebellion against the Lord. We think our way is better than God’s. [671]

FN1 Thessalonians 3:3, That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for youselves know that we are appointed thereunto. [672]

FNMark alone explicitly tells us that there was a group of people following Jesus around at this time, though perhaps at a distance, outside hearing range. [673]

FNThe English word deny is popularly understood in terms of abstaining from something, for example, abstaining from a high calorie, high fat, dessert as part of a weight control program. But the Greek aparnéomai is best understood in terms of disowning something and giving it up; to refuse or reject. To deny yourself, then, is to give up your Self as the ruling or controlling influence in your life. [674]

FNTo follow someone means to be in the same way with him and walk the same way. The idea is one of accompaniment. To follow Jesus is to accompany Him, keep fellowship with Him, and follow Him wherever He may lead. [675]

FNThe similarities of the Roman cross with the disciple’s cross are striking. (1) Both crosses result in death. (2) They’re both instruments of shame and humiliation. (3) They’re both painful to bear. (4) They’re both revolting and abhorrent. No one desires or looks forward to crucifixion!

The differences between them, however, are glaring. (1) The Roman cross was for a criminal who engaged in criminal acts. But the disciple’s cross has nothing to do with committing a crime. Even the righteous and exemplary believers who live upright lives are sentenced to the cross. (2) The Roman cross was involuntary. A criminal would be crucified even though it was against his will. The disciple’s cross, on the other hand, is voluntary. NO ONE FORCES THE CROSS ON YOU. IT'S SOMETHING YOU TAKE UPON YOURSELF. NO ONE--NOT EVEN GOD HIMSELF!--CRUCIFIES YOU AGAINST YOUR WILL! (3) The Roman cross was designed for the body. The disciple’s cross is designed for the soul. (4) The Roman cross was a one-time experience that ended in death. But the disciple’s cross is a daily, on-going death experience whereby Self is put off the throne and put to death so that it no longer rules in the life of the crucified believer. (5) You die physically on a Roman cross. But GET OFF THE DISCIPLE'S CROSS AND LIVE WITHOUT IT, YOU'LL DIE SPIRITUALLY. [676]

FNThe vertical part of the cross would await the criminal at the execution site. [677]

FNWithout the spirit or breath of life our bodies would be lifeless and dead. It would not be capable of thinking or feeling. But when God breathes on us the breath of life at the moment of conception in the womb the body not only comes to life, but this union of body and spirit gives rise to the soul. Our bodies can now think and feel because of the soul.

Once the soul is brought into existence, it can never die. It’s eternal. The physical body dies and decays, but the soul lives on because it’s eternal. And because the soul is eternal, this therefore gives rise to the need for the resurrection of the body. That is, since soul is the union of body and spirit, the soul needs a body. It’s unnatural for it not have a body. Paul likens it to nakedness in 2 Corinthians 5:1-4. Just as our physical bodies have need of being clothed, so our souls have need of being clothed in a body. Whereas once our bodies are physical, there will come a resurrection time when our bodies will be spiritual. When the decayed, physical body is resurrected, it is changed into a spiritual, immortal body and is re-united with the soul. [678]

FNThe story of the rich man and the beggar named Lazarus well illustrates the truth that we’ll never die even though the physical body dies (Luke 16:19-31). The rich man in Hades could feel torment and pain—even though he didn’t have a physical body! He was thirsty—just like when he was alive on the earth. He recognized Lazarus. He knew he had brothers back on Earth. He still had a memory. Death didn’t erase his memory or knowledge of his human existence on Earth. He could talk, hence, he could think and select his words. [679]

FNThat’s because something of value gets more valuable as time passes. For example, a painting that’s worth $80,000 today will likely be worth $200,000 several years from now. A gem that was worth $50,000 in 1950 would be worth $500,000 today. Time increases the value or worth of something that’s precious or rare. [680]

FNThe coming judgment underscores the importance of the cross and dying out to Self. If you don’t die out, your works of the flesh will leave you short of the kingdom (Gal. 5:19-21). [681]

FNWhile the news of Jesus’ death certainly challenged everything the disciples believed about Jesus being a reigning Messiah, this reference to His kingdom nevertheless confirmed what they believed all along, namely, Jesus will indeed reign as King. [682]

FNThe Greek word epaischúnomai means to feel shame or to be ashamed. Brethren, don’t be ashamed to admit to others that you’re a Christian and don’t be ashamed of what you believe, i.e. the Bible. IF YOU'RE ASHAMED OF JESUS, JESUS WILL BE ASHAMED OF YOU. Just as your shame doesn’t mean you’re not a Christian, in much the same way, I believe Jesus’ shame of you doesn’t mean He disowns you and closes Heaven’s gates to you.

Having said this, however, I must say that there’s a delicate and a fine line between being ashamed of Jesus and denying Him. In the latter case, if you deny Jesus before men—that is, you refuse to confess Him as your Savior and Lord, you disown Him and say you’re not one of His followers; then Jesus will likewise deny you. DENYING JESUS PUBLICLY, I'M SAYING, IS DAMNABLE. IT'S NOT UNFORGIVABLE IF YOU REPENT AND START CONFESSING JESUS AGAIN. BUT AS LONG AS YOU'RE SPEAKING WORDS OF DENIAL, THEN EVEN THOUGH YOU DON'T REALLY MEAN IT IN YOUR HEART AND EVEN THOUGH YOU REALLY LOVE AND FOLLOW THE LORD, YOUR WORDS OF DENIAL WILL FIND JESUS DENYING YOU. The distance between shame and denial, I’m saying, is razor thin so that the only true solution and safeguard against denial is to be bold and strong in the Lord (Ephesians 6:10). [683]

FNJesus is saying a lot of things that the disciples do not grasp or comprehend. They cannot reconcile themselves to Jesus’ death. They don’t know what He meant when He told them He was going to rise again (Mark 9:9-10). Now He’s telling them He’s coming back. “So why die if you’re just going to rise again and come back to us? What is the kingdom of God? Is that the same as the Messianic kingdom to be established in Jerusalem? Will the angels who come with Jesus be living on Earth alongside us humans?” The disciples, I’m saying, are hearing a lot of things that they don’t understand.

So what do we do as humans when we don’t understand something? Generally speaking, we reject it. We reject what we don’t understand.  We become disillusioned. And some come to a point where they say they were deceived by a preacher, a message, a church, that they initially believed  were  of  the  Lord.  Brethren, WHEN UNDERSTANDING DETERMINES WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO BELIEVE AND WHO YOU'RE GOING TO FOLLOW AND BE LOYAL TO, YOU'LL FALL SHORT OF THE LORD AT SOME POINT BECAUSE THE LORD, AT TIMES, SAYS THINGS THAT DEFY YOUR PRESENT UNDERSTANDING. The baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues is a good example. How can you speak a language you’ve never learned? It defies understanding and so, most Christians reject that baptism experience. Brethren, when the Lord says things that you don’t understand, don’t reject His truths or revelation. Wait for the Lord to give you understanding. [684]

FNBecause Christ comes back to Earth and sets up His millennial kingdom, which I believe will be centered in Jerusalem, then we see that, in spite of the threat or use of nuclear weapons, the Earth will not be destroyed or completely destroyed in such a way that it becomes uninhabitable. In spite of man’s weapons of mass destruction, there will be an Earth for Jesus to come back to and live in. [685]

FNThe only ones who would be judged would be those who are alive when the time of judgment arrives. This, however, would hardly be fair for the last generation to be judged while the rest of the generations are not because they’re dead. [686]

FNThe site of Jesus’ transfiguration was, for a long time, associated with Mount Tabor in southern Galilee, north of the village of Nain. But this association is highly unlikely because there was a fortress at the top of this mount during Jesus’ time and, besides that, the mount is only about 1000 feet high which hardly qualifies it as an high mountain spoken of by Matthew and Mark.

Mount Hermon, on the other hand, stands 9,200 feet high. While its top was snow-covered for many months out the year, the text of Scripture does not specifically say that Jesus and His three disciples ascended to the very top of the Mount. Additionally, Mount Hermon has the advantage of being in close proximity to Caesarea Philippi where Peter had just made his great confession of Christ.

In all fairness, it should also be pointed out that Jebel Jermak, or Jermuk, in Upper Galilee is a possible site for the transfiguration. It stands about 4,000 feet high. Situated close to the predominantly Jewish communities of Galilee, this would account for the presence of a multitude of people at the foot of the mount, some scribes being among them (Mark 9:14). The towns around Mount Hermon, on the other hand, are predominantly Gentile in population. Even then, however, a multitude cannot be ruled out in view of the fact that there was a crowd of people gathered close to Jesus at Caesarea Philippi when Peter made his great confession (Mark 8:34). [687]

FNMatthew and Mark use the Greek word for metamorphosis, which means change. Something supernatural happened to Jesus so that His entire form—including His body and clothes—were changed and shone in Heavenly glory and brightness. Luke, on the other hand, simply says that the appearance of Jesus’ face was changed. [688]

FNHow did the three disciples know it was Moses and Elijah? They most likely had an inward witness from the Spirit. The fact that Peter spoke about a tabernacle for Moses and Elijah shows that he knew at the time who these men were. Jesus did not have to tell him who they were!

Additionally, since we know that Moses died (Deuteronomy 34) and that this transfiguration took place prior to Christ’s resurrection, his soul was brought up from Hades, the place where departed souls went to after bodily death to await bodily resurrection.

Elijah, on the other hand, never died but was transported directly to Heaven and it was from Heaven that he came (2 Kings 2). Up to this point in time, this was the only time in the Bible where a departed person actually returned to Earth from glory. The calling up of Samuel by the witch of Endor was a vision (1 Samuel 28:12-14). [689]

FNSkené refers to a tent or temporary shelter. With night upon them and the cold winds blowing upon the mountaintop, it’s understandable that Peter wanted to erect three tents for over night lodging to protect Jesus, Moses, and Elijah from the elements. This, however, is unlikely because at the time Peter made this statement, Moses and Elijah were in the process of departing from Jesus.

Now skené also means tabernacle, as in the ancient place of worship prior to the building of the Temple (Hebrews 8:2,5, 9:1-3). In other words, Peter wanted to build three tabernacles for the worship of Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Peter was deep in sleep and when he awoke the first thing he saw was three men in radiant, Heavenly glory. Worship, not shelter, would appear to be the first thing on Peter’s mind. But the thought of worshipping anyone but Jesus was absurd. Peter, speaking rashly and out from slumber, did not know what he was saying. He wasn’t thinking. [690]

FNThe disciples were not ignorant of what the cloud was. In Old Testament times, the bright cloud was the shekinah glory and presence of God (Exodus 34:5, 40:34, I Kings 8:10-11, 2 Chronicles 5:13-14, 7:2). The cloud in their presence was visible proof that God “descended” from Heaven and was now in their midst. [691]

FNMatthew alone tells us that the disciples fell on their faces and he alone records the ensuing words of our Lord to His disciples. [692]

FNNote the kindness and mercy of our Lord. What does Jesus do to the fearful disciples? With a touch and a word, He calms their fear. Jesus, brethren, doesn’t want you to be afraid. And when you are afraid He works to calm your fear. Afraid? Dear friends, listen! God’s Word brings peace and calm to a troubled soul. [693]

FNA fuller is someone who cleans and brightens woolen clothes. [694]

FNMark tells us that the disciples’ response was one of fear. They didn’t know what was happening. They hadn’t seen or experienced anything like it. Like the Israelites at Mount Sinai, the sight of the Divine and the supernatural frightened the disciples and caused them to fear for their lives (Exodus 19:16, 20:18-19). Friends, when you have even a tiny glimpse of the God of Heaven you will be brought to your face and knees in holy fear of Him! [695]

FNLuke’s about eight days afterwards is approximate and cannot therefore be considered a contradiction to Matthew’s and Mark’s six days. [696]

FNLuke alone tells us that Jesus was praying at the time He was transfigured. [697]

FNOnce again, Luke alone tells us what Jesus, Moses, and Elijah were talking about: they were talking about Jesus’ exodus or departure which He was going to accomplish, or fulfill, at Jerusalem. This exodus was a reference to Jesus’ sufferings, crucifixion, and resurrection. The accomplishment is the fulfillment of what the Scriptures prophesied concerning Christ. For this reason, God’s choice of Moses and Elijah to meet with Jesus on the Mount is understandable because Moses represented the Law and Elijah, the Prophets. [698]

FNLuke alone tells us that the disciples were asleep at the time and were subsequently awakened by what was happening nearby. While there is nothing to preclude men from sleeping during the day, it seems more likely that it was indeed night time and that the transfiguration took place at night because it wasn’t until the next day that Jesus and the three disciples descended from the Mount (Luke 9:37). [699]

FNAs the cloud descended upon the Mount, it enveloped the three disciples too. Without doubt, Peter, James, and John entered into a glorious, supernatural experience that they would remember for the rest of their lives. Roughly thirty-five years later, Peter wrote about it in his Second Epistle 1:16-18. [700]

FNGod’s words rang familiar to any Jew who would understand them as referring to the Messiah: The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken (Deuteronomy 18:15). To an astute Jew, these words from Heaven would have been understood as God’s confirmation of Jesus as the God-Sent, Heaven-Come, Messiah. [701]

FNA similar thing happened to Moses while he communed with God on Mount Sinai: And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. {30} And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him (Exodus 34:29-30). [702]

FNWe can only speculate why Jesus didn’t want the disciples to tell anyone about His transfiguration until after His resurrection. I surmise that if the disciples were not held under such restraint, they would have publicized Jesus’ glory and Divinity, (1) making the people more zealous to install Him as the King of Israel, thereby (2) making it harder for them to reject Him and consent to His crucifixion. To the contrary, Jesus had to be rejected and killed just as the Scriptures prophesied! [703]

FNOur Lord here reinforces the notion of His sufferings and death. Whereas His second coming with the angels (Matthew 16:27) is the Messiah as Reigning King, nevertheless at the present time He is Messiah as Suffering Servant. The sufferings, rejection, and death of Messiah are prophesied in the Old Testament in texts such as Psalm 22:1-18, 69:8-9, 11, 20-21, and Isaiah 53. [704]

FNThe word listed means ‘desired or wanted’. [705]

FNThe word lunatic comes from the Greek word seleniázomai, which literally means ‘moon-struck’. The word is used only twice in the New Testament, in Matthew 4:24 and 17:15. A lunatick was someone who was crazy, demented, or insane. Apparently, the ancients believed that insanity had something to do with the moon. Because the affliction described in Matthew 17:15 resembles the symptoms of epilepsy, some commentators translate seleniázomai as ‘epileptic’. [706]

FNAmongst the Jews, a teacher who could clearly expound the Scriptures and resolve any difficulties in understanding them was known as an uprooter or pulverizer of mountains. Thus, when Jesus talked about removing mountains, the Jews understood Him to say that with faith, all of life’s difficulties can be solved. From William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1975)Volume 2, page 167. [707]

FNSuzetéo, used here and in verse 16, can also mean ‘to argue, dispute, or debate’. In this context, the scribes were engaged in a dispute with the disciples. Based on the man’s answer to Jesus’ question, the argument centered around the disciples’ inability to exorcise the demon out of the lunatick son. Note in verse 16 that instead of addressing His disciples, Jesus confronted the likely instigators of the argument—the  scribes. [708]

FNWhy were the people surprised to see Jesus come? Some think it was because Jesus’ face shone with glory, much like Moses’ face did at Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:29-30). If Jesus’ face shone, this would arouse public comment, people would automatically know that He had been in the presence of God, and this was exactly what Jesus didn’t want the people to know, Matthew 17:9.

I think they were surprised because they didn’t expect Jesus to come down from the mount so soon. As unexpected as His arrival was, they were glad to see Him because the scribes had the upper hand in the argument. The disciples’ inability to cast the demon out, or to explain their inability to do so, put these followers of our Lord on the defensive. [709]

FNThe man’s original intention in coming to the mount was to bring his son to Jesus so that Jesus could heal or deliver him. Finding Jesus gone, the man did the next best thing and asked the nine disciples of our Lord to help him. [710]

FNBetter translated, And wherever it takes hold of him or comes upon him, it casts him to the ground. Whenever the demon manifested the boy would go into convulsions and fall to the ground. [711]

FNMeaning, to waste away. The boy’s condition was getting worse all the time. [712]

FNLiterally, How long shall I put up with you? [713]

FNLiterally, the spirit convulsed him, the boy fell to the ground and rolling about, was foaming. Notice that the boy went into a demonic manifestation when he was brought to Jesus. Brethren, have you ever noticed how things sometimes get worse when you’ve brought your need to Jesus? You’re confident because you’ve prayed about it and Jesus is going to help you. But, like the demon in this boy, circumstances get bad as soon as you prayed. DON'T BE SHAKEN OR ALARMED, DEAR FRIENDS. THE DEVIL'S JUST TRYING TO SHAKE YOUR FAITH AND GET YOU TO FEAR AND DOUBT. WHEN THINGS TAKE A TURN FOR THE WORSE, THAT'S YOUR CUE TO GO AFTER THAT DEMON AND STOP HIM FROM ROBBING YOU OF YOUR ANSWER TO PRAYER![714]

FNPaidióthen, meaning ‘from infancy or childhood’. Luke uses a variant form of this word in verse 42 which suggests that the son was a child or youth, not an adult. (When a boy turned thirteen years old he was considered an adult.) Whether he was oppressed from the time of infancy or later on in his childhood, it seems clear to me that the boy had been oppressed for a number of years. [715]

FNJesus either took the father and son apart, or, when the demon started manifesting and the boy went into convulsions the crowd stepped back a distance. Perhaps sensing that Jesus was about ready to do something, the people started rushing toward Jesus to get a closer look. [716]

FNAkáthartos and its variant forms are used throughout the New Testament with respect to unclean people or spirits. Luke uses this same word in verse 42. It’s used many times to refer to sexual uncleanness, but its meaning is not confined to that. Animals which the Jews were forbidden to eat are referred to as unclean (Acts 10:14). Children born out of a marriage where a believer is married to an unbeliever are said to be holy, not unclean (1 Corinthians 7:14). When we see Jesus rebuking a dumb and deaf spirit (Mark 9:25) we see that akáthartos refers to any demonic spirit in general. By whatever name it goes, a demonic spirit is an evil, unclean spirit. [717]

FNI command thee. You do not plead or make deals with demons. You command them! You’ve got the authority over them (Luke 10:19)! So tell them what you want them to do! They must obey you! [718]

FNThe boy underwent a lot of convulsions as the demon was coming out. [719]

FNThe people thought that Jesus, in attempting to help or deliver the child, ended up killing him. Friends, JESUS DOESN'T KILL IN THE PROCESS OF HEALING OR DELIVERING. WHEN HE HEALS OR DELIVERS YOU, YOU LIVE TO TELL ABOUT IT! [720[

FNIn the course of His travels, Jesus sometimes didn’t have a place to stay (Luke 9:58). On other occasions, however, Jesus was able to find lodging. For the Jews, the hospitality of opening up one’s house for a traveler or person-in-need was taught, encouraged, and therefore widely practiced. [721]

FNHuiós, literally means ‘son’. Luke alone tells us that this lunatick child was his father’s only son. [722]

FNThe demon scarcely or hardly departed from the boy. Does this mean he was attacked or oppressed from time to time and not necessarily possessed? The fact that Jesus cast out a spirit indicates the spirit was resident in the boy and therefore possessed him. Hardly departeth indicates the boy was in a near-continuous state of demonic manifestation. He was constantly suffering. [723]

FNThe demon tare him. In the Greek, it violently convulsed him. The convulsions were strong or severe. [724]

FNThe multitudes recognized the hand and power of God working in Jesus’ life. There was no denying that Jesus was a Man of God! [725]

FNWhile the Devil has his hand in sicknesses, nevertheless not all sicknesses are oppressions in the sense of the sick actually being demon-possessed (see footnotes 452 and 453). In the present case, the lunatick child suffered both a physical infirmity as well as a spiritual, demonic oppression or possession. In instances such as this where oppression also involves physical infirmity, we see that HEALING FOLLOWS DELIVERANCE: And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour (Matthew 17:18). The child’s healing followed as a result of his being delivered first. Brethren, WHEN A PERSON IS PHYCIALLY INFIRMED AND OPPRESSED AT THE SAME TIME, HEALING WILL NOT BE MANIFESTED UNTIL THE INFIRMED PERSON HAS GONE THROUGH DELIVERANCE. CAST THE DEMON OUT FIRST, THEN HEALING WILL ENSUE.

On a related note, if an infirmity persists after prayer, this could be a trial of faith whereby God uses the infirmity to strengthen your faith; or it could be a matter of oppression that you’re not knowledgeable about. In this case, seek the Lord. It just could be you need to be delivered before you can be manifestly healed. [726]

FNBe careful at this point and don’t talk yourself into unbelief when, in reality, you really are believing. Some manifestations are delayed because of the presence of unbelief in the heart. But, in the same breath, some manifestations are delayed because—even though you’re really believing—God wants to perfect endurance in you. Through the trial of faith and the delayed manifestation, He’s teaching you to endure and hold fast to your faith that no matter how bad it looks, no matter how long it takes and it looks as if God isn’t going to keep His Word, just keep on believing because God will come through for you on His Word! This, my friends, is the endurance of faith and it’s a necessary, integral part of receiving the manifestation of the promises. Abraham believed God for twenty-five years concerning his promised son, Isaac. God, in essence, took twenty-five years to fulfill a promise He made to Abraham twenty-five years earlier. Why the delay in the manifestation? Because it takes both faith and endurance to receive the promises. We read in Hebrews 6:11-15, And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: {12} That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. {13} For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, {14} Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. {15} And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. If you really are believing God, then rest in that faith and know that you’ll receive the manifestation. Concentrate on what God’s doing through the trial: concentrate on enduring by faith.

Closely related to endurance, another reason why the manifestation of a promise may linger is because the Lord’s teaching you to persist and press in for the promise. You see, when the manifestation lingers it’s all too easy for you to grow complacent in faith. Two things commonly happen to people when manifestations linger. (1) First, they quit believing. They assume that, because they believed when they first claimed the promise, then God’s going to manifest the promise on the basis of that faith. The result? They don’t have to keep on believing: the answer’s going to come anyway! But that just isn’t the way it works, friends. As Hebrews 6:11-15 tells us, we’ve got to believe and endure all the way to the very end in order to receive a manifestation of the promise. Believing at the time of prayer isn’t enough. And this is where people go wrong because they think that God requires faith only when they pray and once they’ve prayed in faith, they don’t have to believe anymore. To their unawares, people quit believing for whatever it was they were initially believing for. So what happens? The manifestation never comes. (2) And a second thing that happens to a lot of people when manifestations are delayed is, they either (a) get used to living with what they’ve got or haven’t got, or (b) they accept the notion that God doesn’t want to heal or deliver them, they’re an exception to the promise. The result? People live without expecting the manifestation of the promise. Brethren, you’re not an exception to the promise and God doesn’t want you living with the infirmity or oppression that you’ve got. That’s not the promise or the Word! The promise was for you to be healed and delivered. Don’t get used to squinting or living with sickness and pain! Don’t get used to the idea that you’ll be oppressed and have this miserable condition for the rest of your life! That’s not what God promised! Wake out of complacency and press in for a manifestation of healing and deliverance. Like the woman with the issue of blood (Mark 5), the Syro-Phoenician woman with her oppressed daughter (Mark 7), and the widow with the unjust judge (Luke 18), SOME THINGS ARE GOING TO BE HAD ONLY BY YOUR PRESSING IN AND REFUSING TO BE DENIED. The delayed manifestation, I am saying, is meant by God to wake you out of complacency and get you to stand fast for what God promised and provided. Brethren, do not take No for an answer, neither accept a lifetime of suffering in place of the promise!

Having said all this, if, on the other hand, you know you’re not really believing God, perhaps God speaks to you through His Spirit or a human vessel and exposes the unbelief in your heart, then know for a certainty that the manifestation has delayed because of your unbelief. It’s time to quit the charade and start getting rid of unbelief. [727]

FNAs we see in the case of this lunatick child, there are times when those who are in need of help aren’t in a position to believe for themselves. Perhaps they’re too oppressed, too young, or too sick to believe for themselves. Brethren, IF YOU'RE ACTING OR PRAYING OR SOMEONE'S BEHALF, THEN IT'S UP TO YOU TO BELIEVE CONCERNING THEM. Notice what Jesus said: If thou canst believe. The father didn’t need deliverance: his son did. But of whom did Jesus require faith? Of the father. Why? Because it was the father who presented the need. Brethren, IF YOU'RE ASKING THE LORD TO HELP SOMEONE, IT'S UP TO YOU TO DO THE BELIEVING. HE WHO DOES THE ASKING MUST ALSO DO THE BELIEVING.

Now here’s another question for you to consider: Does God heal someone who isn’t believing? Does He deliver someone who’s too oppressed to believe for deliverance? When you consider this lunatick child, as well as the demoniac in the synagogue and the Gadarene demoniac (Mark 1:21-28, 5:1-20), neither of whom asked or believed for deliverance, we must conclude that there are indeed times when God heals or delivers someone who isn’t believing. In the present instance, HE HEALS ON THE FAITH OF SOMEONE WHO'S BELIEVING FOR THE HEALING OR DELIVERANCE OF THE PERSON IN NEED.

Naturally, when the person in need is in a position to pray and believe for himself or herself, but chooses not to because of unbelief or because of a desire to go home and be with the Lord; I see no compelling testimony of Scripture to believe the Lord will heal or deliver such a person for the sake of someone who’s believing the Lord concerning them.

Additionally from this passage of Scripture, faith does three things in the midst of failure or adverse circumstances. (1) First, faith doesn’t give up in the face of failure. The father brought his son to the disciples and after some time of diligent effort on their part the child remained oppressed and undelivered. It’s so easy to get discouraged when hopes are dashed to pieces by failure. The father could have taken his son and walked dejectedly home. But do you know what? He hung around and, by God’s sovereign timing and design, Jesus came just in time to catch him and help him. Brethren, DON'T GIVE UP IN THE FACE OF FAILURE!  (2) Second, faith is choosing to believe. It’s a choice. You can believe there’s no help for you, or else, you can believe help’s available. Either way, the difference between faith and unbelief is choosing to believe what Jesus has said to you. (3) And third, BELIEVING THE WORD REQUIRES YOU TO IGNORE THE NEGATIVE CIRCUMSTANCES THAT YOU'RE PRESENTLY CONFRONTED WITH.Remember that the child is convulsing and rolling around on the ground while Jesus is talking to this man. For him to come to faith he’s got to forget about his son long enough to concentrate on what Jesus is saying to him. Brethren, YOU DON'T GET FAITH BY KEEPING YOUR EYES GLUED TO YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES AND THEREBY FAILING TO HEAR WHAT JESUS IS SAYING TO YOU. Faith comes by listening to Jesus, not by looking at circumstances. IT'S HARD TO BELIEVE AND STAY IN FAITH WHEN YOUR MIND AND EYES AREN'T FOCUSED ON THE wORD, BUT ON THE CIRCUMSTANCES INSTEAD.

Lastly, note two things that Jesus is doing here. (A) One, He’s teaching this man about faith. Friends, you need the Word, you need teaching, in order to believe. Like this man, so many live without believing because they don’t know anything about faith. They don’t know that they can believe the Lord for healing, deliverance, or whatever trial and tribulation of life they’re going through. Brethren, ONE OF THE BEST THINGS YOU CAN DO FOR YOURSELF AND YOUR FAITH IS TO BE IN A CHURCH WHERE FAITH IS TAUGHT.(B) And two, Jesus isn’t talking about the symptoms or circumstances: He’s talking faith. People are so prone to concentrate on the circumstances, but you don’t get faith that way. Brethren, QUIT THINKING AND TALKING ABOUT THE TRIAL. THINK AND TALK ABOUT GOD'S WORD OR PROMISES AND YOU'LL FIND, JUST LIKE THIS MAN, THAT FAITH COMES BY LISTENING TO GOD. [728]

FNThe Textus Receptus and the Nestlé Greek Texts differ on this verse, which explains why the KJV reads differently from the NASB or NIV. The Receptus includes the word believe after if thou canst. Hence, If thou canst believe, and therefore emphasis is laid on the father’s ability or willingness to believe.

The Nestlé, on the other hand, omits the word. The verse, then, is left to read If thou canst, all things are possible to him that believeth. Remember that the father just finished saying, Lord, if thou canst do anything, help us. Jesus responds by quoting the man’s words in part: ‘If thou canst’? All things are possible to him that believeth. [729]

FNJesus predicted His sufferings, death and resurrection on seven separate occasions: (1) On the road to Caesarea Philippi, Matthew 16:21, Mark 8:31, Luke 9:22; (2) Descending from the mount of transfiguration, Matthew 17:12, Mark 9:12; (3) In Galilee, en route to Capernaum, Matthew 17:22-23, Mark 9:31, Luke 9:44; (4) On the road to Jerusalem, Matthew 20:17-19, Mark 10:33-34, Luke 18:31-34; (5) In Jerusalem, two days prior to Passover, John 12:23-36; (6) Later that same day, Matthew 26:2; and (7) The last supper, on the night of His betrayal, Matthew 26:21-25, Mark 14:18-21, Luke 22:21-22, John 13:21-27. [730]

FNConsidering Jesus’ popularity and a large traveling entourage of thirteen men, privacy would have been a difficult thing to secure. They most likely avoided going into any towns and avoided the main roads. [731]

FNJesus discloses a new element in His prediction and that is the fact that He would be delivered into the hands of men. The word comes from the Greek paradídomi, which is used quite a bit in the Gospel accounts and is many times translated betray. It means to hand over, give over, or deliver up. In other words, Jesus was going to be betrayed and handed over to the religious authorities; someone was going to turn Him in. But who? At this point in time, Jesus didn’t reveal who the betrayer would be. It wasn’t until the night of His betrayal, while Jesus ate the paschal meal with His disciples, that He told them the betrayer would be one of the twelve, Matthew 26:21 and parallels. [732]

FNThis incident is found only in the Gospel of Matthew. [733]

FNDidáskalos, teacher. The term is used to refer to a teacher, instructor, or master. [734]

FNDídrachma, a Greek coin worth two drachmas, hence a double drachma or didrachma. One Greek drachma is equivalent to one Roman denarius and is worth about 16¢. A didrachma, then, would be worth about 32¢. The American monetary equivalents are based on J.D. Douglas’ The New Bible Dictionary of 1965. Taking inflation into account, the American equivalents of these coins would be somewhat higher today. [735]

FNProphtáno, meaning to get an earlier start; to anticipate what someone is going to say or do and be the first to speak or act. Peter came into the house to ask Jesus about the tribute. But before Peter could say anything Jesus already knew what Peter was going to ask and thus He brought the subject up. [736]

FNAllótrios, belonging to another. Used with reference to people, the word means a foreigner or an alien; not one’s kin or people. [737]

FNFree in the sense of being exempt from having to pay tribute tax. [738]

FNSkandalízo, to offend, vex, or cause to stumble and fall; to entrap someone and cause him to falter, err, or sin. To offend, in the eyes of the Jews, means much more than just hurting someone else’s feelings. It means to cause them to fall or do something wrong. Hence, the offender bears the blame or responsibility for the offended person’s failure or fall. [739]

FNA stater, a Greek coin worth four drachmas, hence, a tetradrachma. It was worth 4 Roman denarii or about 64 American cents. [740]

FNIn addition to Jews, all proselytes and emancipated slaves of the same age requirement were obliged to pay the tax. A registry of eligible taxpayers would be kept, as evidenced by the tax collectors’ knowledge that Jesus hadn’t yet paid His tax. Women, slaves, children and priests were exempt from the tax. The Temple tax could not be received from heathens or Samaritans. As a matter of cruel irony, the Roman Emperor Vespasian ordered that the Temple tax be collected even after the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. and be used for the rebuilding of the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus. Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, VII.6.6. [741]

FNThe fact that Jesus did not travel to Jerusalem to pay the tax is perhaps evidence that this requirement of rabbinical law was not strictly enforced in Galilee. [742]

FNThere is no Biblical support for this action or penalty. Specific information regarding the Temple tax is laid out in the Mishnah under Shekalim in the Second Division of Moed. [743]

FNJesus’ foreknowledge testified to His Divine nature as Son of God and, in this way, helped Peter to understand why Jesus didn’t have to pay the tax. He didn’t have to pay because He was the Son of God. Sons don’t pay tax. [744]

FNThe Lord doesn’t set a bad example of disregard or disobedience to the Word of God. But, at the same time, He doesn’t hesitate to set what some would call a “bad” example of disregard or disobedience to the commandments and traditions of men, i.e. the washing of hands, picking grain and healing on the Sabbath, fellowshipping with sinners, dining with publicans, being touched by a woman, and other aspects of rabbinical law. [745]

FNPaul speaks about this at length in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 and 10. [745a]


FNA coin minted in one city often varied in size and weight from the same coin minted in another city. In one picture that I saw, a Greek tetradrachma was a tiny bit smaller than our Kennedy or Franklin half-dollar. [747]

FNHere are some stories from the Book of Kings that will bless your heart and encourage your faith in times of financial or material testing and lack: Elijah fed by the ravens and the multiplication of a widow’s meager supply of meal and oil (1 Kings 17), an angel feeds Elijah (1 Kings 19:1-8), the miracle of the water (2 Kings 3), the multiplication of the indebted widow’s oil (2 Kings 4), and nothing one day, plenty the next (2 Kings 7). Don’t despair, my friends, God will provide! [748]

FNWith the question of greatness in the kingdom begins Jesus’ last discourse in Capernaum. It marks the close of Jesus’ Galilean ministry. Recorded most fully in Matthew’s account, this extended discourse deals primarily with our attitude towards ourselves and how we’re supposed to treat each other. [749]

FNThe Greek word strépho which is here translated 'turn' (or in KJV ‘convert’) is similar in meaning to metánoia, translated ‘repent’. Both words emphasize a change. Strépho speaks of a change in one’s direction, to turn around or reverse direction. The disciples were going in the wrong direction of greatness. In fact, the direction they were taking was leading them away from the kingdom of Heaven! They needed to turn around and go in the direction of humility. Pride, my friends, sets you at enmity with God. God resisteth the proud (1 Peter 5:5). Proverbs 16:5 reads, Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord. Chapter 21 verse 4 goes on to say, An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin. ENTRY INTO HEAVEN REQUIRES YOU TO DIVEST YOURSELF OF PRIDE. PRIDE DOESN'T MERIT YOU THE KINGDOM: IT EXCLUDES YOU FROM IT. [750]

FNTapeinóo, meaning to abase, bring low, or humble. The pride which so often motivates our ambition for greatness sets us high above others where we can be noticed and respected. But true greatness in the sight of the Lord is through humility. What is humility? It is getting rid of pride, getting off of our pedestal, and bringing ourselves to a point where, in lowliness of mind, we esteem or regard others as being better than ourself (Philippians 2:3). The desire for attention, respect, and glory is replaced by the desire to serve and help. In Jesus’ words, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be the servant of all. [751]

FNDéchomai, to receive, accept, or take unto oneself. The antonym would be to refuse or turn away. [752]

FNDialogízomai, meaning to argue or dispute. [753]

FNEvidently, the disciples were at first ashamed to tell Jesus what they were arguing about and so, they kept quiet and didn’t respond right away to Jesus’ question. When they perceived that Jesus knew their thoughts, they then presented their question and dilemma to the Lord: Who, then, is greater in the kingdom of heaven? Brethren, when you’re ashamed or unwilling to tell Jesus what you’ve been talking or arguing about, it’s a good indication that you probably shouldn’t be talking or arguing about it in the first place. Some matters, like this one having to do with greatness, are close to our heart and we have strong feelings or opinions about them. But it’s funny how these matters that seem so important to us embarrass or shame us when the Lord enters the conversation. [754]

FNRemembering that within the last few days Jesus reminded His disciples about the sufferings that awaited Him in Jerusalem (Matthew 17:22-23) and how that this reminder caused them to be very grieved; this argument as to who among them was the greatest clearly reveals that the disciples still clung to their Messianic expectations of glory and power in Jerusalem. Regardless of what Jesus said, they still believed that when they got to Jerusalem Jesus was going to set up His Messianic kingdom and they would assume a place of prominence and power. The only question that remained in their minds was, who among them would be the greatest, or who among them would be picked and considered by Jesus to be His right hand man. [755]

FNIt would be customary for a rabbi or teacher to sit down when he was instructing his pupils. Thus, when a rabbi sat down in the course of a conversation it was an indication to those present that this was going to be more than just a casual conversation: the rabbi would teach. [756]

FNIf, as it is commonly assumed, Jesus was staying in Peter’s house, then, it’s possible that the child Jesus held was one of Peter’s children or kin. While we have no way of confirming or denying it, there was also a tradition in the early church that this child was none other than Ignatius of Antioch, a renowned church father. He was surnamed Theophoros, meaning God-carried, and was supposedly thus named because he was carried or held by Jesus. [757]

FNYou’ll arrive at humility a whole lot faster or sooner when (1) you die out to that selfish, carnal desire for attention and glory. Brethren, you’re not here to glorify yourself, but God. Heaven is not all about people worshipping you: it’s all about people worshipping God. Pride and vainglory have no part or place in the kingdom of God. You need to be humble to enter the kingdom and YOU NEED THE CROSS TO BE HUMBLE. YOU DON'T BECOME HUMBLE WITHOUT DYING OUT TO SELF.

And (2) YOU'LL ARRIVE AT HUMILITY A WHOLE LOT FASTER WHEN YOU QUIT COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS. The pride that so often lies behind our ambition for greatness thrives on comparison with others: we’re faster than others, we’re smarter than others, we’re richer than others, we’re more spiritual than others, and so on. There’s only one true, valid standard for comparison and that is God. When we compare ourselves with God we can’t help but be humbled by the knowledge of His greatness, power, wisdom, righteousness, love, and the like. He’s so much better and greater than us! [758]

FNTachú, meaning quickly, suddenly, or readily. A true miracle worker from God will not readily, or in the same breath, say anything bad against the Lord. He won’t readily bad mouth the Lord. [759]

FNThere were others beside the twelve who kept in regular company with the Lord. While they were not chosen as apostles, they nevertheless didn’t cease to travel or be with Jesus. This fact is evidenced in the choosing of a replacement for Judas Iscariot as recorded in Acts 1:21-23, Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, {22} Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. {23} And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. While the Lord chose only twelve men to be His apostles,  the number of followers who tagged along with the apostolic company was much larger than that. Apparently, the man in Mark 9 wasn’t a part of this company. [760]

FNActs 19:13-16, Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. {14} And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. {15} And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? {16} And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. [761]

FNThe fact that this man was not an apostle like one of the twelve confirms the truth that apostles aren’t the only ones authorized to work miracles. The promise of Mark 16:17 is, them that believe, not them who are apostles. [762]

FNSome of the early church’s more notable ministers were not members of the Jerusalem church. Among them were the apostle Paul (Galatians 1:15-19), Timothy (Acts 16:1-2), Apollos (Acts 18:24), and Titus (Galatians 2:3). Thank God the labors of these men were not discredited by the church in Jerusalem!

At the same time, not everyone who professes to be a Christian is a Christian indeed, nor is everyone who professes to be a minister of Christ a minister in truth. [763]

FNNow there’s one thing that sets us off from Elijah the prophet and that’s this. The prophet despaired at the thought that he was the only one left; it was a matter of grief and despair to him. But the thought that we’re the only true Christians around is not borne of despair, but rather, of pride. And as pride goeth before a fall, so surely we set ourselves up for a fall if we think we’re the only true Christians in the land today. [764]

FNCould it be, brethren, that the reason why we don’t have the leading or calling is because we don’t have the care or compassion that’s needed in ministering to others? Could it be that God hasn’t called us because He can’t use us because we don’t care enough for others? O friends, let’s search our hearts and ask the Lord to fill us with compassion, for only then can we be called and used in the ministry of our Lord. [765]

FNWhy should we leave them alone? Because, as Jesus said, He who is not against us is for us. Just because a person is not a part of us doesn’t mean they’re against us. They may not be a member of our church, but that doesn’t automatically make them an enemy of the church and the faith.

Now what constitutes a person being for us? One thing we see in our text is, they do the works of Christ, they do the things Christ did. And another thing is, they don’t speak evil or negatively of the Lord; they don’t contradict His teaching or Word. Granted, there are many preachers and miracle workers out there who oppose and resist the Word of truth that we believe and preach. As in olden days, there are modern-day legalists, Judaizers, Scribes and Pharisees who bring men into bondage to law, espousing salvation by works, and who teach for doctrines the commandments and traditions of men. These are deceived and are deceivers and I don’t believe the Lord is in their labors. GOD, FRIENDS, DOESN'T SEND ANYONE OUT TO SPEAK CONTRARY TO HIM OR HIS WORD!

At the same time, there are those who disagree with the Word of truth that we believe and preach. While they are not adamantly opposed to us, they nevertheless do not agree with everything we believe and stand for. I’m not sure that everyone who disagrees with us is deceived or is a deceiver. (1) Some just don’t have the light, consequently, their disagreement with us is borne of ignorance and immaturity. (2) Some don’t have faith, consequently, their disagreement with us is borne of fear and unbelief. (3) Some disagreements are borne out of the silence or seeming vagueness of Scripture whereby the text of Scripture is understood or interpreted in different ways. One such example among many is the requirement for a minister to be the husband of one wife (1 Timothy 3:2). Does this mean a minister can’t be divorced and remarried? Some believe yes, others believe no. In the absence of a clear, definitive statement—to the effect that the minister of God must not be divorced and remarried—the text of Scripture is subject to varying interpretations. And varying interpretations lead to differences and disagreements among the brethren.

Now whatever disagreementS people have with us, I’m not sure that a person’s disagreement with us automatically renders them deceived. I don’t think it automatically disqualifies them from being true Christians or ministers of God. As a Christian we all were at one time ignorant. We didn’t believe in some doctrines. We interpreted Scripture the way our denominational church told us to interpret it. We weren’t a model of true Christianity. But thankfully, we were Christians just the same and God didn’t cast us off for being so ignorant, immature, and unbelieving. He put up with us, taught us, and changed our disagreements with His Word into agreements.


FNThis is in sharp contrast to the disciples’ recent failure to cast the demon out of a lunatick child (Matthew 17:14-21). Now if you saw someone succeeding in a task where you failed, wouldn’t you be tempted to become jealous?  In your  jealousy  wouldn’t  you  do  something you really shouldn’t do, like criticize the person or discredit his success? I don’t believe the disciples were jealous, but you can see where a person’s censure or proscription of another man’s ministry can be motivated by jealousy over another man’s success. [767]

FNWe would do well to heed the counsel of Gamaliel. The High Priest was particularly annoyed with Peter and the apostles because they were pretty active and vocal in preaching Jesus. So he had all of them arrested and imprisoned. At their trial before the High Court, there was a lot of talk about punishing these Jesus preachers: they really wanted to do them in. But a very wise Pharisee by the name of Gamaliel urged his fellow Sanhedrinist to exercise caution and restraint. Here's what he said: So my advice is, leave these men alone. Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. (39) But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God (Acts 5:38-39 NLT). Brethren, remember that WHEN YOU RESIST OTHERS YOU MAY WELL BE RESISTING GOD! If you don't want to fight God, then don't fight against His ministers (even if you don't think they're His ministers). [767a]

FNSkandalízo, the same word used earlier in Matthew 17:27. See footnote 739. [768]

FNA millstone was used to grind wheat or some other grain into flour and was a common fixture in any Jewish household. There were three basic types of millstones used. (1) The simplest was one where the grain would be placed on a slab of stone and crushed by the rubbing action of another stone held in the palm of the hand. It was this hand-held stone which a woman dropped on Abimelech’s head and killed him (Judges 9:50-55).

(2) A second, stationary type of millstone consisted of two round stones, each  between 18 and 24 inches in diameter. The bottom stone was stationary and was slightly convex so that the flour would roll out from the center and towards the edge of the mill. It had a wooden peg inserted in its center over which the upper stone, slightly concave, was placed. Grain was fed through a hole in the upper stone and a woman would turn the stone by means of a wooden handle attached to its outside edge. On larger millstones of this variety two women were required to rotate the large upper stone and it is this familiar household scene that Jesus refers to in Matthew 24:41 where He says in reference to His coming, Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

(3)The third type of millstone was the largest of all, used for community or commercial purposes. It was similar in construction to the second type, only on a larger scale with the upper stone being about 4 or 5 feet in diameter. Since the upper stone was massive, an ass or donkey was used to rotate it. This múlos onikós, or ass’s millstone, is what’s referred to here in Matthew 18:6.

Grinding was a servant’s or a woman’s job (Exodus 11:5, Isaiah 47:2). Because the mill was such a vital part in the preparation of daily meals, the law forbade a person from taking the entire mill or upper millstone as pledge for the repayment of a debt (Deuteronomy 24:6). [769]

FNDeath by forcible drowning was one Roman form of capital punishment whereby heavy weights would be attached to the convicted felon before being thrown overboard. Josephus tells of an incident whereby some Galileans in revolt took hold of several of Herod the Great’s followers and drowned them in the Sea (Antiquities, XIV.15.10).  [770]

FNWoe is an expression of grief similar to Alas, uttered in time of calamity or bad news. [771]

FNChildren have an innate ability or willingness to believe. They believe everything their parents tell them. They don’t doubt for a moment that what mom and dad is telling them is really true. When children read the Word about God being their Healer, they believe it just the way it reads—that God will heal them, not kill them. When they read, Cursed in the man that trusteth in man, they understand that you’re not blest if you quit trusting the Lord. Do you see what I mean? CHILDREN TAKE GOD AT HIS WORD. THEY DON'T DOUBT HIM. THEY HAVE TO BE TAUGHT TO DOUBT. [772]

FNHere are some doctrines that cause children to stumble: the doctrine that there is no God, no Heaven or Hell; telling them that how we live our lives really doesn’t matter much to God; convincing them that some things aren’t really sin, like lying or stealing or fornicating. [773]

FNMeaning crippled. [774]

FNIn the latter part of verse 8 Jesus talks about everlasting fire. It is fire that never ends or stops burning; it burns throughout the ages. In the latter part of verse 9 He speaks of this fire as being Gehenna itself, or Hell, the eternal abode and punishment of the wicked. Now Gehenna means ‘Valley of Hinnom’. It’s an actual valley that’s located on the south side of Jerusalem. In Old Testament days, backslidden and apostate Israelites offered their children to the god Moloch, or Molech, by throwing them into a raging fire. In the days of the monarchy, Solomon was the first to build an altar for the worship of this false god (1 Kings 11:6-7). Under Kings Ahaz and Manasseh many children in Israel were burned in sacrifice (2 Kings 16:1-3, 21:1-6). The good King Josiah later destroyed these altars and cursed the valley as a place of uncleanness (2 Kings 23). During New Testament times, the valley was used as the city’s garbage dump-incinerator and there was an incessant stream of smoke rising heavenward from the valley. Thus, the valley came to symbolize that place of eternal torment where the fire burns always and is never quenched. [775]

FNThis is a clear reference to Isaiah 66:24. The language that describes Hell is figurative and it's likened unto our natural world. Soon after death a carcass is eaten up by worms. When the worms have nothing more to eat, they die. Hell is a place of everlasting torment. It's a fiery place where the fires never go out or are extinguished. Unlike our natural world where worms and decay totally consume the body until there's nothing left of it, there'll be no such decay in Hell. The body lives on eternally, it'll never be reduced to ashes by Hell's fires. The bodies of the wicked in Hell will never die, hence, their "worms" will feed on the wicked and torment them forever. [775a]

FNThe word in the Greek literally means to look down or look against, hence, to despise, treat with disrespect, disdain, or contempt. [776]

FNThis is perhaps the foremost Scripture text used to support the belief that each one of us, the children and the elect, has a guardian angel who looks out after us, Hebrews 1:14, Psalm 34:7, 91:11. Even though this belief is not spelled out in full within the whole body of Scripture, I nevertheless have no problems with it. Whether each one of us has a guardian angel or not, one thing is certain: INVISIBLE TO THE NAKED EYE, ANGELS ARE NEVERTHELESS ALL AROUND US, ASSISTING AND PROTECTING US. PRAISE GOD FOR THE MINISTRY OF THE ANGELS! [777]

FNMany commentators interpret this phrase as meaning the right of passage before God’s throne; they have direct access to God. In the human realm, not everyone is allowed to see or visit with the President: they must first be carefully screened or investigated. If a person has a criminal record, they’re not allowed to see the President. Similarly, in a monarchy, those closest or most-favored by the King have free access to him. In much the same way, God is so concerned about the children that He allows their guardian angels to come before His presence at any time to speak with Him concerning them. [778]

FNThis parable is repeated by our Lord in Luke 15:3-7. In Luke, the lost sheep depicts a sinner, while in Matthew it depicts a little child. [779]

FNDoes this mean that it’s possible for little children to be damned and go to Hell? I believe so, at least those who are past the age of accountability. But what about those who haven’t reached the age of accountability? What about those who commit crime or who are children of false religions? I’m not sure that this is the issue being addressed by our Lord in this text. Jesus is talking about one of these little ones. Who is He referring to? Not to every child in particular, but as the context shows, He’s referring specifically to those which believe in me (Matthew 18:6). Young believers of the Lord who are wayward will, in my opinion, not perish for the Lord as a Shepherd will successfully restore them to the path of life: He is come to save that which was lost. While this is not an encouragement for little believers to go out and sin because they won’t have to go to Hell for it, it nevertheless is an encouragement to us adults that wayward children will not perish. [780]

FNWhile our Lord’s search and rescue of the little wayward ones speak of His love and care for them, it nevertheless also speaks to us of the work necessary to keep the little ones in the path of life. Brethren, we have a responsibility to keep them from the paths of sin. And like a shepherd in search for a lost sheep, we’ve got to go looking for the children who’ve strayed. It takes our time, attention, and work. NO SEARCH, NO RETURN. IGNORE THEM, LOSE THEM. Brethren, this is not the love of Christ! He cares for the children and so should we. GIVE THEM YOUR TIME AND ATTENTION, YOUR GODLY TEACHING AND EXAMPLE, AND MOST OF ALL, YOUR LOVE. [781]

FNHamartáno, which is the main verb for ‘sin’ that’s used in the New Testament. It literally means ‘to miss the mark’. Our actions, or we ourselves, are judged in relation to a mark or standard. For example, speeding on a highway is judged to be any speed above or beyond the posted speed limit. The limit, you see, is the mark or standard. And in much the same way, the mark or standard in the spiritual realm is God’s Word or will. When we disobey God’s will or violate His Word, we’re missing the mark. [782]

FNThis procedure for dealing with erring members applies (1) in a matter of sin, and (2) it applies when you’re involved in that sin as far as being the offended party in an offense: Shall trespass against thee. BEFORE ACTION IS TAKEN AGAINST AN OFFENDING MEMBER, WE MUST FIRST ESTABLISH THE FACT OF SIN. You see, some things aren’t sin. A brother hurting your feelings or not inviting you to a social fellowship is not sin, therefore, the supposed offense does not qualify for the actions that the Lord outlines for us in this text of Scripture.

And second, when you’re not directly involved in an offense, it’s a matter of wisdom and spiritual maturity to stay out of the offense and give the brethren time and a chance to work out their differences, disagreements, or complaints. Sin undealt with ultimately affects the whole church. And so, when the matter remains unresolved due to the inactivity of the brethren involved, you should prayerfully consider intervening and talk to the two brethren. Unresolved conflicts should ultimately be brought to the pastor’s attention.

As a side note, the text presupposes the two brethren are members of the same church. What happens when the offending brother does not go to the same church as the brother whom he has offended? The question is not dealt with here, but in view of the things that we note in the main body of our commentary regarding sin’s effect on the offending brother, if the brother neglects to hear both you and the witnesses, the matter is to be taken to the offending brother’s church for it is that church where disciplinary action is to be taken if the brother remains recalcitrant. Obviously, a church can only disfellowship one who is a part or a member of that church. [783]

FNElégcho can indeed mean ‘to tell a fault or to expose it and make it known’, but it can also mean to reprove or rebuke someone who’s done something wrong (Luke 3:19, 1 Timothy 5:20). In this sense, the intent is to convince or convict someone of having done something wrong. [784]

FNThe verb means exactly what we know it to mean, but in the sense of listening to what someone has to say. At times we hear someone telling us something but we’re not really listening or paying attention. Akoúo, as it’s used here, means to listen. The idea is one of concurring or agreeing with the reproof, confessing the fault, and making an apology. [785]

FNThis is the same word ‘gain’ used with respect to gaining the whole world in Matthew 16:26 or gaining additional talents for the master in Matthew 25:17. The idea here is one of winning someone over to a cause or winning someone for the kingdom. [786]

FNThe Mosaic law required the testimony of two or three witnesses to convict a person of wrong-doing: One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established(literally, be made sure or be proven, Deuteronomy 19:15).

Eye witnesses to the wrong were the Lord’s provision to safeguard a man from being charged, convicted, and condemned solely on the word of another. In keeping with this demand of justice, the requirement for two or three witnesses was one part of the Law that Jesus expected New Testament believers to continue to observe: the witnesses required in the Old are still required in the New. Besides serving to substantiate the offended party’s claim against the offending brother, I believe the involvement of one or two more persons helps to facilitate or moderate the dialogue and thus assure an impartial hearing and an impartial judgment, increasing the likelihood of the offender’s willingness to repent and be reconciled with the offended. Should their efforts fail, the witnesses may testify to the offender’s stubbornness and thereby confirm the church’s decision to discipline the recalcitrant offender. [787]

FNParakoúo, to fail or refuse to listen; to disregard and pay no mind or attention, to ignore. [788]

FNInterestingly enough, the word ekklesía is used only two times in the Gospel accounts, both of them in Matthew (16:18 and 18:17). Chronologically speaking, this is the second and last time Jesus used the word. In the absence of Jesus’ detailed teaching on the Church (He only mentions it, but doesn’t teach on it); and because the passage implies a developed understanding of the Church as an ecclesiastical Body with authority to discipline its erring members; some doubt the authenticity of the passage and view it as a much-later addition to the Gospel text. The silence of Scripture, however, need not be understood as Jesus’ failure to instruct His disciples on the doctrine of the Church, inasmuch as the Scriptures do not record the half of all that Jesus said and taught.

As we look at the usage of ekklesía throughout the New Testament, we see that even prior to Paul’s Epistles and teachings on the Church the term was already used in reference to the assembly of believers under the leadership of the apostles and elders (Acts 2:47, 5:11, 11:22, 13:1, 14:23, 15:2, among others). The Church as the gathering of believers, I am saying, was understood long before the doctrine was committed to writing and expounded in Scripture. And being thus understood, I believe Jesus taught His disciples some things about the Church even though these teachings of Jesus were not included in the Gospel record.

Whatever the case may be, the thing of significance that I find here is the fact that Christ was going to gather His believers or followers into an assembly that was distinct and separate from the assembly of Jews known as the synagogue. Christ’s followers were not going to stay in, and be a permanent part or member of, the Jewish synagogue: they were going to form a distinct assembly devoted to the worship and service of Christ. In this way, the coming separation between Judaism and Christianity could be discerned and foretold. [789]

FNThat is, a Gentile. Jesus here makes reference to the prevailing Jewish attitude towards Gentiles, publicans, or sinners in general. It was an attitude of separation and the absence of fellowship. While Jesus reached out to Gentiles, publicans, and sinners, and would have us do the same; the prevailing Jewish attitude is nevertheless to be observed towards an unrepentant, recalcitrant believer-so-called who has been disciplined and disfellowshipped by the church (see 1 Corinthians 5:11-13). If a believer-so-called insists on acting like a heathen (that is, in being unrepentant), he is to be seen and treated as a heathen. [790]

FNBinding refers to forbidding something, while loosing refers to allowing it. The actual rendering of the verbs in the Greek text is as follows: Whatever you bind on the earth shall be, having been already bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on the earth shall be, having been already loosed in heaven. Seeing that our Lord uttered this statement in the context of church discipline, it appears that the binding and loosing does not refer to the forgiveness of sin as many suppose, but rather, refers to the discipline or disfellowship of the unrepentant offender. The idea here conveyed is one of concurrence or agreement between the church on Earth and the Father in Heaven: the discipline meted or enacted on Earth concurs with the discipline that Heaven has already meted or enacted; the church does with the unrepentant what Heaven has already done. In this way, the concurrence between Heaven and Earth is Heaven’s stamp of approval on the church’s discipline of its erring member: Heaven backs the discipline. From our Lord’s words here in Matthew 18 we see that THE DISCIPLINE OF A CHURCH MEMBER IS NOT A HUMAN INVENTION OR SANCTION, BUT RATHER, A COMMAND OF JESUS AND AN ACT OF HEAVEN. [791]

FNIn Ephesians 4:3 the Lord exhorts us to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Unity and peace go together. You cannot have one without the other. And you cannot have both without each member endeavoring, striving, or working to keep the church unified and at peace. [792]

FNWhat happens if there are no witnesses? Technically speaking, it precludes the church from disciplining the offending member. Because sin adversely affects those who commit it, you can pray for the brother or sister who sinned against you and ask the Lord to help them see and acknowledge their wrong—for their own sake. If the offending brother or sister has committed, or commits, a similar sin against another member of the church, both of you, I believe, are within the boundaries of Scripture to reprove him or her in private and, if that fails, you can take the matter to the church for action. [793]

FNThe implication of the text is that when a person is put under church discipline, the hedge of protection round about him is lowered, his unrepentance has left him outside the protection of the blood of Jesus, and Satan therefore has right of access to him to afflict him.

It should be noted, however, that church discipline is not to be confused with Divine chastisement. Both involve sufferings, but the latter remains under the providential, protective care of our Lord (Hebrews 12:4-11). [794]

FNSumphonéo, meaning to be in harmony or unison; having the same mind. [795]

FNJesus’ presence in the midst of two or three reveals the Divine aspect of His being as the Omnipresent Spirit. Clearly, since Jesus was in bodily form He could only be in one place at one time. So to this day. But through His Spirit, He is everywhere at one and the same time. [796]

FNNaturally, we still have to meet the conditions for answered prayer which include: praying in accordance with God’s will, praying in faith, praying in Jesus’ Name, not harboring any sin in our life, etc. [797]

FNPresupposing, of course, that the brother or sister repents. A similar account in Luke 17:3-4 relates our duty to forgive when an offending brother repents and asks for an apology. Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. {4} And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. [798]

FNAmos 1:3,6,9,11,13, 2:1,4,6. [799]

FNMake no mistake, the Lord isn’t teaching us to sin against our brother all the more, seeing that he is under Divine obligation to forgive us each time. Not so. The Lord isn’t teaching us to sin many times, but rather, to forgive many times. Some people think that if they keep on forgiving the same person for repeated offenses they’re contributing to his delinquency. Not necessarily. It should be noted that the duty to forgive doesn’t preclude you from reproving your erring brother, nor does it preclude the church from disciplining him. Genuine concern for the soul of a wayward brother or sister isn’t manifested in withholding forgiveness, but rather, in reproving him or her and in getting others involved in the effort to turn them from the error of their ways. [800]

FNSince it is unlikely that a mere slave would run up such a huge debt, it is probable that the servants referred to here were the king’s officers or officials within the government. One such servant capable of incurring such a huge debt would be a provincial governor or the head of the king’s treasury. [801]

FNA talent is a Greek coin. The one that was in wide use in Palestine was known as an Attic talent and by today’s standard was worth about $1,000. Ten thousand talents, therefore, is about ten million dollars. According to William Barclay, this amount was truly a king’s ransom. He estimates that the total revenue of the tetrarchy which included the provinces of Idumea, Judea, and Samaria, was only 600 talents. Galilee’s total revenue he estimated to be no more than 300 talents. [802]

FNThe prevailing custom of the land, at least among the heathens, permitted a man who owed a large sum of money to be sold, along with his wife, children, and possessions, so that the debt could be paid off as much as possible. In cases where the debt was more manageable, the man would simply be imprisoned until his family could pay the debt off. [803]

FNLiterally, an hundred denarii. A denarius was a Roman coin and it’s worth about 16¢ today. A hundred denarii, then, is about $16, a mere trifle when compared to $10,000,000. In fact, the debt was 1/600,000th of the unmerciful servant’s debt to the king!

Now a denarius was the amount of money an average laborer made for a day’s work. To pay off a hundred-denarii debt, a man would have to work at least 100 days—or five months, working five days a week—and devote his entire paycheck to the debt.

Let’s contrast this debt with the 10,000 talent debt that the other servant owed the king. One talent was worth 6,000 denarii. Ten thousand talents, then, would be worth sixty-million denarii. If a man made a denarii for every day he worked, he would have to work sixty-million days and use every red cent of his paycheck to pay back the debt. If he worked year-round, day in and day out, to pay off the debt, he would have to work about 164,383 years! That’s without inflation or interest. If his average lifespan was 70 years and he spent the last sixty years of his life working to pay off the debt, the man would have to live about 2,740 lifetimes just to pay off the debt! [704]

FNThe servant-just-forgiven was unmerciful towards his fellowservant. Proverbs 22:7 tells us that the borrower is servant to the lender. When you go into debt, you’re selling yourself as a servant to whoever it is you owe money to. Unpaid debts, or debts that are taking an unreasonably long time to pay off by the lender’s standards, strain and disrupt the relationship between borrower and lender. You might think you’re a lot better off borrowing money from family or friends, as opposed to borrowing money from a bank. But the truth of the matter is, you shouldn’t borrow or go in debt (Romans 13:8). And if you do borrow from family or friends, the debt can adversely affect your relationship with them. Unpaid or lingering debts have a way of turning friends into enemies, and nice folks into unmerciful, unreasonable tyrants. [805]

FNImprisonment for debt was a common recourse and was, until the last century, practiced here in America. [806]

FNEven though the king didn’t tell his indebted servant to “Go forth and do likewise,” he nevertheless expected his servant to be compassionate toward his fellowservant as the king had been toward him. While a parable is meant to convey one central or primary point—that being forgiveness in the present instance—there is something to be said about doing some things on our own without Jesus having to tell us to “Go forth and do likewise.” It’s a matter of having common, spiritual sense to follow in the example of our Lord and do the things He did without having to have “chapter and verse” all the time. [807]

FNA torturer or tormenter was a court-appointed man whose duty it was to torture convicted and imprisoned felons. Seeing that the ten thousand talent debt would likely never be repaid in full, it’s clear that the wicked, unmerciful servant would spend the rest of his life imprisoned and tortured. Hell is torture without end for all who do not forgive. [808]

FNThe Feast of Tabernacles, also called Feast of Booths or Feast of Ingathering, started out as a seven-day feast in the time of Moses, but an eighth day was added after the Babylonian Exile (Nehemiah 8:18). It began on the 15th of Tishri (September-October) and ended on the 22nd. Its purpose was two-fold. (1) It was an offering of praise and thanks to the Lord for the ingathering or harvest of the crops of the field—the wheat, barley, and grapes (Leviticus 23:39, Deuteronomy 16:13-15). And  (2) it was a time to remember the wilderness travels of the Israelites as they journeyed out of Egypt and into Canaan land (Leviticus 23:39-43). Every adult male Jew living within fifteen miles of Jerusalem was required to attend this festival, although countless many more from various parts of the Roman Empire gladly made the annual pilgrimage to the Holy City to observe this festive holiday. Tents or booths would be set up in courtyards, on housetops, in the public squares and streets—even in the Temple precincts! They were constructed wholly of branches and leaves, without cloth, and built in such a way that the loosely-thatched roof protected them from the weather, but still allowed them to see the sun by day and the stars by night. It was in this temporary shelter that every Jew was to both dwell and eat for the entire duration of the festival. (Women, infants, nurses, and invalids were exempt from this requirement.) The first and last days of the feast were Sabbath rests: no work could be done and activity centered around the holy convocation at the Temple or local synagogue. The second through the sixth days of the feast were known as the middle of the feast and were regarded as half-festivals in the sense that some work could be done, primarily that which related to the preparation of food and other activities related to the observance of the feast. During middle days, friends and families would gather together for fellowship and kindness and hospitality would be shown especially to the poor, widow, and stranger. There are established rituals that are observed on each day of the feast that are worth your reading in any good Bible dictionary or encyclopedia. In addition to the prescribed morning and evening sacrifice, the total number of animals sacrificed during the eight-day feast was 71 bulls, 15 rams, 105 lambs, and 8 goats. Each bull, ram, and lamb sacrifice was accompanied by a grain and a drink offering (see Numbers 29:12-40). The Feast of Tabernacles will continue to be celebrated during the millennial reign of our Lord and people from every nation of the world will come to Jerusalem to observe it, in accordance with the prophecy of Zechariah in Zechariah 14:16-19. Still celebrated to this day in Israel, the festival is now known as Sukkot, the Hebrew word for booth or temporary dwelling. [809]

FNThe names of Jesus’ brothers are: James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas, or Jude (Matthew 13:55). [810]

FNAs far as we know, during Jesus’ lifetime on Earth none of His brothers believed on Him. [811]

FNIf you rebuke sinners and call sin ‘sin’, you’re not going to be liked. Be prepared for rejection and persecution when you expose and confront sin. [812]

FNSome stumble at the fact that Jesus said He wasn’t going to the feast when, in actuality, He later on did (John 7:10). Did Jesus lie? Of course not! The fact of the matter is, Jesus didn’t say He wasn’t going to the feast: He said He wasn’t going yet: I go not up yet unto this feast. In other words, it wasn’t the right time for Jesus to go, at least, not yet. The  feast  began  on the 15th of Tishri, but the actual preparations for the feast as far as the setting up of the booths was concerned, took place on the 14th, which means Jewish pilgrims from Galilee began their journey to Jerusalem at least two to four days prior to that. No matter what day it was when Jesus’ brothers prodded Him to go to Jerusalem, it wasn’t time for Jesus to go—not yet. What we see here, then, is that Jesus did indeed move according to the right time. It may be the 10th or 14th, the feast may be about ready to begin, but Jesus isn’t making a move until it’s the right time.

And do you know what? (1) Jesus isn’t going to be rushed by anyone into doing anything out of the appointed time. And (2) Jesus isn’t going to be rushed by any circumstance into doing anything out of the appointed time. (See our following commentary on John 11). The severity of the trial, the worsening circumstances, or the approaching dateline, isn’t going to make Jesus move or act faster or sooner than He had originally anticipated (John 11:1-6). Brethren, God has a perfect time. HE DOES THINGS AT PRECISELY THE RIGHT TIME--BY HIS TIMING, NOT OURS. Don’t panic. And don’t try prodding Him into doing something sooner. It won’t work! [813]

FNMatthew and Mark write almost next-to-nothing about Jesus’ later Judean ministry. They have Jesus leaving Galilee and commencing His Perean ministry beyond Jordan. Luke and John, on the other hand, tell us quite a bit about what Jesus did in Judea. Our Lord’s later Judean ministry lasted about three months, from the Feast of Tabernacles in October to the Feast of Dedication in December, John 7:2-10:22. [814]

FNAnálepsis, meaning to take up or receive up, used here in reference to Jesus’ ascension. [815]

FNSterízo, meaning to set resolutely in a certain direction. Nothing and no one would hinder Jesus from going to Jerusalem. Knowing that He was going to His death, not even death itself would stop Him from going. [816]

FNThe use of the plural aggélous is interesting in this regard. The road through Samaria was a hazardous one for any Jew to take. Samaritans would deliberately lie in wait to attack, rob, and even kill. Thus, Jews traveling the Samaria road would often travel in groups for added protection and peace of mind. The hazards of traveling through Samaria are documented in Josephus’ Antiquities XX.6.1-3.

In addition, Luke’s use of messengers instead of disciples would seem to indicate that there were others beside the twelve who accompanied Jesus on this trip to Jerusalem. They were sent on ahead of Jesus to find the necessary lodgings or accommodations for the traveling company. [817]

FNA brief commentary on the animosity between Jews and Samaritans may be found by clicking here. [818]

FNWhen King Ahaziah sought to arrest Elijah because of his disturbing prophecy concerning the King’s illness and impending death, Elijah twice called down fire from Heaven against the soldiers who came to arrest him, 2 Kings 1. [819]

FNWhy didn’t Jesus want to stay very long in Samaria? Friends, the Samaritans wanted Jesus to stay a while. They would have received Him and think of how much good Jesus could have accomplished among them! But Jesus didn’t do it. Do you know why? Because He was moving in accordance with God’s plan and time. In spite of what we may think to the contrary, now just wasn’t the time for Jesus to minister among the Samaritans—that would come later and it would be the apostles, not Jesus, who would do the ministering (Acts 8:5-25). Brethren, WHEN YOU MOVE IN ACCORDANCE WITH GOD'S WILL AND TIME, NOT EVERYONE IS GOING TO UNDERSTAND OR AGREE WITH THE DECISIONS YOU MAKE. Don’t let their protest sway you into doing things God doesn’t want you to do right now. Like Jesus, stay with God’s plan, die out to people’s protests, and keep on walking. [820]

FNJesus is quite interested that we be kind to others. IT'S UNBECOMING FOR CHRISTIANS TO BE UNKIND. Unkindness is a characteristic of goats, not sheep (Matthew 25:31-46). In fact, GOD EXPECTS US TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE NEED AND TO DO WHAT WE CAN FOR THE NEEDY. Just because we don’t agree with the social gospel doesn’t mean it’s wrong or inappropriate for us to be involved in the needs of persons within society. The early church busied itself with clothing and feeding its members, as well as believers-in-need from other churches (Acts 4:34-35, 2 Corinthians 8-9). [821]

FNPeople’s unkindness is not a license for us to be unloving, neither is their rudeness a license for us to be retaliatory. Don’t hold a grudge. Die out! [822]

FNAs much as you may love those who have been mistreated or insulted, brethren, you must die out and not be vindictive against those who’ve mistreated or insulted your loved ones. Consider who James and John were trying to defend: Jesus. Brethren, if our Lord wouldn’t allow us to defend Him, the Lord we love and worship and serve; would He want us to defend anyone else beside Him? The answer is self-evident. [823]

FNAmong the religious leaders in Israel, this scribe was only one among many who believed in Jesus (John 12:42-43). Altogether, however, these believers among the Jewish leadership still numbered a small minority. Most of their fellows were vehemently opposed to Jesus. [824]

FNWe have a great promise of provision and supply from our Lord. Among the many promises we have is this one from Philippians 4:19, But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. But THE PROMISE OF PROVISION, YOU SEE, DOESN'T MEAN WE WON'T HAVE TO GO THROUGH TRIALS OF PRIVATION OR LACK. The promise presupposes the trial. There would be no promise if there was no trial. The promise is given to enable us and encourage us as we go through the trial. [825]

FNLet us take note that this man wasn’t one of the twelve. The Lord was calling a non-apostolic follower to preach the gospel. If you were one of the twelve, how would you have felt when the Lord called a “part-time” follower to do what Jesus Himself was training you to do? Would you have been jealous? Brethren, JUST BECAUSE GOD HAS CALLED YOU TO PREACH THE GOSPEL DOESN'T MEAN A "LAYMAN" CAN'T PREACH OR BE USED OF THE LORD! [826]

FNSince the Jews did not embalm their dead, burial took place within a few hours of death. The body would be washed, anointed with spices or perfume, wrapped in linen or cloth, laid on a bier, and carried out to the place of burial or entombment. Since it is unlikely that a man would be traveling when his father hasn’t yet been buried, it is perhaps preferable to understand the text in one of two ways: (1) his father was on the verge of death and the man wanted to stay close to home so that he could bury his father first before he came and followed Jesus; or (2) his father had indeed died and he wanted to stay close to home to observe the seven-day, thirty-day, or year-long period of mourning that the law prescribed for the son of a deceased parent. In that case, his following the Lord would have to be postponed until this period of mourning was over. [827]

FNWilliam Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke (Michigan: Baker Book House, 1978), p. 561. The burial of a loved one was accompanied by a seven-day period of deep mourning (shiva) during which no business or business-related work could be done. Three prayer services are conducted each day in the mourners’ house during shiva week. This was then followed by a thirty-day period of light mourning (shloshim). Children of a deceased parent are required by law to mourn for a whole year (aveilut). [828]

FNIt’s worth noting here that I do not believe the Lord would call a person to ministry if He knew that person could not possibly answer the call at the time He gives it. Now there’s a big difference between a person’s ability to answer the call right now and a person’s willingness to answer the self-same call. The Lord called the rich young ruler to follow Him. This was something that the ruler could have done. But the young man chose not to. He was not willing to make the sacrifice that the Lord demanded of him (Matthew 19:16-22). [829]

FNBut what would this man’s brothers, sisters, mother, and relatives think of him if he wasn’t present to bury and mourn for his dead father? Wouldn’t it create problems between him and the family? Likely so. The thing we see here is, there are times when the Lord calls you to do something that will likely result in problems or conflicts between you and your loved ones. Brethren JUST BECAUSE YOUR LOVED ONES WILL NOT LIKE OR AGREE WITH SOMETHING YOU INTEND TO DO AS AN ACT OF OBEDIENCE TO THE LORD'S WILL, DON'T THINK THAT IT WASN'T THE LORD WHO SHOWED IT TO YOU. GOD WILL, AT TIMES, ASK YOU TO DO SOMETHING THAT YOUR LOVED ONES WON'T LIKE. [830]

FNMany times throughout his Gospel account, John uses the phrase the Jews to refer, not to the people in general, but to the religious leaders in particular. [831]

FNIt must be remembered that at this particular point in time Jesus is under the sentence of death in Judea. When He first came to Jerusalem at the start of His public ministry Jesus angered the religious leaders by cleansing the Temple (John 2:13-22). When He came to Jerusalem again some months later He healed the impotent man by the Pool of Bethesda, doing so on the Sabbath. As a result of this healing and the ensuing claim of Jesus to be the Son of God, the religious leaders thereafter sought to kill Jesus (John 5:17-18). It is for this cause of death that Jesus spent most of His time in Galilee instead of in Judea (John 7:1). Now that the Feast of Tabernacles had come, the Jews were undeterred in their resolve to arrest and kill Jesus and it is for this cause that they eagerly sought Him out (John 7:11 with 7:19, 30, 32). [832]

FNAlong the eastern and western sides of the Court of the Gentiles were two huge porticoes or colonnades (also known as cloisters), called Solomon’s Porch and the Royal Portico. People would often gather in these porticoes and the rabbis would customarily sit on benches to teach the people. It is most likely in one of these porticoes where Jesus taught on this particular occasion.

Additionally, it would be worth noting that at the time of this Feast, the Temple would be crowded with festive pilgrims. There were a lot of people gathered around Jesus. As we shall see in the ensuing verses, Jesus’ audience was composed of religious leaders, Jerusalemites, and visiting Jews. Knowing who Jesus was talking to will help you understand why Jesus said the things He said and why there was such a huge difference in the way different people responded to Him. [833]

FNLuke 2:46-47. [834]

FNAmong the Jews, it was generally acknowledged that only the disciple of a recognized teacher or rabbi was entitled to expound Scripture. A rabbi would not make a statement on his own authority, but always backed it up with a statement of another. Unanimity with other rabbis, you see, lent credence to anything a disciple or rabbi said. Jesus, however, didn’t quote the rabbis. He claimed to speak for God Himself. Now this claim gave the Jews a lot of trouble because if it was indeed true that Jesus spoke the words of God, Jesus would be correct in everything He said and the dissenting rabbis would all be wrong. Brethren, is it possible for one man to be right and everyone else be wrong? Jesus’ answer is yes! And it’s also the answer of Athanasius and Luther. Friends, it’s possible for the entire religious system to be wrong. [835]

FNWas Jesus exaggerating when He said, None of you keepeth the law? I think not. Jesus isn’t talking to the whole multitude of people gathered around Him. Rather, He’s talking to the religious leaders who sought to kill him. At this point in time, the only people who wanted Jesus dead were the religious leaders and that’s precisely who He was talking to. [836]

FNJesus has reference here to His work of healing the impotent man by the Pool of Bethesda, John 5. [837]

FNJesus’ reference to His healing the impotent man on the Sabbath has led some scholars to believe that this particular section of John’s narrative was not uttered during the Feast of Tabernacles, but rather, was spoken in the context of the actual healing in John 5. [838]

FNExodus 20:8-11, Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. {9} Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: {10} But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: {11} For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. [839]

FNIn the face of opposition don’t be timid or fearful. Be bold and keep on talking! Opposition didn’t silence our Lord! [840]

FNThe Jews believed that Christ would indeed come from Bethlehem. But until He revealed Himself to Israel as the prophesied Christ no one would know Him to be the Messiah. In other words, no one would know who Messiah is until Messiah revealed Himself to Israel. He would rise suddenly, out of obscurity, and surprise everybody. Where will Messiah first reveal Himself? In the Temple. 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 (Malachi 3:1). Jesus, then, could not be Messiah because He came from Nazareth and, prior to His Temple appearing, multitudes of people already hailed Him as Messiah, thus contradicting the suddenness of Malachi’s prophecy and ruining the element of surprise. [841]

FNThe verb krázo means to cry out, to call aloud. Some people think that Jesus never raised His voice or talked out loud, but this just isn’t so. See verse 37, as well as John 12:44, Matthew 27:46,50. [842]

FNPiázo, to catch, take, or lay hands on. In context, the verb here means to seize, apprehend, capture, or arrest. This same word is used in verse 32 when the Temple officers are sent to arrest Jesus. [843]

FNThis same thing is said again in John 8:20. Additionally, it’s worth noting that even when men were able to get their hands of Jesus, they soon had to let go, or else Jesus escaped out of their hands. See Luke 4:28-30 and John 18:6. The only way men could have bound Jesus was for Jesus Himself to consent and submit Himself to it, John 10:17-18. Nothing willed or allowed happens outside the appointed hour. [844]

FNThe Pharisees and chief priests give strong indication that these men convened a meeting of the Sanhedrin, perhaps for the purpose of putting Jesus on trial. Compare with verses 45-53, in particular verse 53. The convening of a court, however, was forbidden on festival days and the Sabbath. The Pharisees and chief priests, then, were in violation of the law by convening the court. [845]

FNBy day and night the Temple was under the constant guard or surveillance of Temple officers, mostly Levites and a handful of priests. Among other responsibilities, they guarded the many gates into the Temple to make sure no Gentiles or unclean persons entered therein. There were twenty-four guard stations posted throughout the Temple. Each station was composed of ten guards. Thus, altogether, there would be a total of 240 guards on duty at any given time of day or night. These guards were under the supervision or authority of a captain of the Temple (Acts 4:1), referred to in Jewish writings as ‘the man of the Temple Mount’. These officers also functioned as a police force. They quelled any disturbance that might arise in the Temple and they were the ones who arrested anyone who was wanted by the Sanhedrin. Jesus’ arrest in Gethsemane was conducted by these officers, John 18:12. [846]

FNIt is now October of the year and in six months, at the time of Passover in April, Jesus will be crucified, resurrected, and about forty days later, ascend to the Father in Heaven. At this point in time, then, Jesus doesn’t have much time left. [847]

FNThis is a clear reference to the truth that a Jew will not enter Heaven just because he’s a Jew. Jewish nationality isn’t the guarantee of a right of entry into Heaven. Jesus, talking to Jews, said, Ye cannot come. Friends, unbelief and unrepentance will keep Jews and Americans, Muslims and Christians, out of the kingdom. [848]

FNThe Diaspora, or Jews living outside Palestine. The religious leaders thought Jesus was leaving Palestine to minister among the Diaspora and, after that, He would minister among the Gentiles. It’s obvious that Jesus and the religious leaders aren’t communicating. They’re talking on different wavelengths. Friends, WHEN YOU DON'T BELIEVE JESUS, WHEN YOU'RE NOT TEACHABLE, IT'S HARD FOR YOU TO UNDERSTAND WHAT JESUS IS SAYING. Paul puts it this way, But people who aren't spiritual can't receive these truths from God's Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can't understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means
(1 Corinthians 2:14 NLT). [849]

FNFor those of you who use the King James Version, the word succored means to help or to come to the aid of. [850]

FNSee also Jeremiah 11:9-11, 14:10-12, Ezekiel 8:17-18, Hosea 5:3-6, Micah 3:1-4, Zechariah 7:8-13. [851]

FNSince the Feast of Tabernacles was an eight-day feast, there is some debate as to whether the seventh or the eighth day constituted the last day of the feast. The arguments are good on both sides and I’m not sure that a definitive stance on the exact day is worth the fight. In favor of the seventh day being the last day of the feast, it was on this day that the priest drew water for the last time from the Pool of Siloam and the booths were dismantled. As the priests marched around the altar seven times on this day they would say aloud, O then, work now salvation, Lord. O Lord send now prosperity (Psalm 118:25). They would say this so many times during the procession around the altar that this seventh day was called the day of The Great Hosannah.

Now in favor of the eighth day being the last day of the feast, Leviticus 23:36 & 39 stipulated this day to be a sabbatical day and a holy convocation. In other words, the feast was to conclude with a day given to worship with no work done. Since the Feast of Tabernacles was the last feast of the Jewish year and therefore ended the annual cycle of religious festivals, the eighth day is best understood as being the last day of the feast. [852]

FNThe exact Scripture verse that Jesus had reference to is not found in our Bible. There are a number of verses which our Lord might have alluded to and which He summarized in this brief statement, Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. These verses include Isaiah 12:3, 35:6-7, 41:18, 44:3, 55:1, 58:11, and Zechariah 14:8. The Arabic and Syriac versions of this text in John pluralizes the word ‘Scripture’ and thus reads, As the Scriptures have said, Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. Jesus said a similar thing to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:13-14. [853]

FNWhile the Holy Spirit was present and active in the lives of men throughout the Old Testament dispensation, He nevertheless was not an indwelling presence and could not be until Christ first came to Earth, was crucified, resurrected, and glorified. The indwelling Holy Spirit was realized on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2).

Additionally, it should be noted that while the Holy Spirit was meant to indwell each and every believer, the Spirit nevertheless is not automatically and simultaneously given at the time of conversion as evidenced by the Spirit-less Ephesian believers in Acts 19:1-2, And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, {2} He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. Though these Ephesians were believers, they did not have the indwelling Spirit; they didn’t get the Spirit at the time they got saved. It was only after Paul laid hands on them that the Spirit came upon them with the Pentecostal manifestation of speaking in tongues (Acts 19:6). Conversion and the baptism in the Holy Spirit, then, are two separate experiences which every believer is supposed to have. Unfortunately, as with the Ephesian believers prior to Paul’s coming, not every Christian has the Spirit baptism experience. [854]

FNThe ceremony was rabbinical in origin and was nowhere mandated in Scripture. [855]

FNApparently, the people believed that Christ and the Prophet were two separate individuals. [856]

FNThe question betrays the people's ignorance of the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth. They just didn’t know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Furthermore, while the people rightly believed that Christ would be born in Bethlehem according to the Scriptures, they were wrong in assuming He would grow up and live in Bethlehem. In the end, it was this wrong assumption, based on a right or Scriptural belief, that played a major role in leading these people to reject Jesus as the Christ: “Jesus could not be Christ because He didn’t come from Bethlehem!” In much the same manner, brethren, you may be right in what you believe, but the details or assumptions that are a part of that belief may not necessarily be right. Pay attention to the details! [857]

FNInstead of going right up to Jesus and arresting Him, they stood back and listened to what He had to say. And in listening to Him they were deterred from doing what they were intending to do, and that is, arrest Him. Brethren, JESUS' WORDS--THE WORDS OF SCRIPTURE--HAVE THE POWER TO TURN YOU FROM THE SIN YOU INTEND TO DO. BUT YOU'VE GOT TO STOP LONG ENOUGH TO LISTEN!

They perhaps echoed the awe and sentiment of the people who heard Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount: And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: {29} For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes (Matthew 7:28-29). [858]

FNThe religious authorities were unaware that Jesus had His sympathizers among them, one of whom was Nicodemus. If not at this time, then certainly later on, many members of the High Court or Sanhedrin believed in Jesus (John 12:42). In the midst of their peers’ antagonism toward Jesus, these believers and sympathizers in the Court kept their faith secret and hidden from their peers. [859]

FNThe word epikatáratos means ‘cursed, outcast, or vile’. The pious among the Jews referred to their ignorant, impious countrymen as Am-Haaretz, ‘People of the Land’. These were the people who were ignorant of the Law, they didn’t observe the rules of cleanness and uncleanness like the Pharisees, and they didn’t scrupulously tithe their produce as required by Law. These commoners were so looked down upon that rabbinic law even stipulated that “Six things are laid down about the Am-Haaretz: entrust no testimony to them, take no testimony from them, trust them with no secret, do not appoint them guardians of an orphan, do not make them custodians of charitable funds, and do not accompany them on a journey.” The law forbade a person from being the guest of an Am-Haaretz or to entertain him as a guest. In fact, wherever possible, nothing was to be bought from, or sold to, a commoner. Those Jews who were observant and pious were known as Haberim, or Associates. [860]

FNWhenever Nicodemus is mentioned in John’s Gospel account attention is given to the fact that he came to Jesus by night (3:2, 7:50, and 19:39). [861]

FNAs a ruler of the Jews (John 3:1), Nicodemus was a Pharisaic member of the Great Sanhedrin and was therefore present for its trials and deliberations. Though he kept his belief in Christ hidden from his peers, for which some judge him as a cowardly compromiser, he nevertheless dared to speak up in Jesus’ defense. Note his wisdom in doing so. He didn’t defend Jesus by reciting His miracles or credentials. Rather, he defended Him by an appeal to the law by which all Jews, Sanhedrinists included, are governed. In the end, his wisdom prevailed and the Court was dismissed in the absence of the Defendant. Here we see that GOD CAN USE A BELIEVER IN HIGH PLACES OF AUTHORITY OR INFLUENCE. JUST BECAUSE A PERSON'S A POLITICIAN DOESN'T MEAN GOD CAN'T, OR WON'T, USE HIM TO ACCOMPLISH HIS WILL. [862]

FNA little bit of mockery and intimidation is involved here and it effectively silenced Nicodemus from saying anything more. Put yourself in Nicodemus’ shoes. You’re a believer, but you’re surrounded by peers who are vehemently against Jesus. You want to do something for Jesus, but there’s not much you can do since everyone else is dead set against Him. THE FACT THAT YOU CAN'T DO MUCH SHOULDN'T DETER OR STOP YOU FROM DOING WHAT LITTLE YOU CAN. From all outward appearances, Nicodemus’ effort to defend Jesus was a feeble one. He appealed to the law, as opposed to defending Jesus on the merits of His miracles, message, and Messianic credentials. But despite the feebleness of the effort, the effort paid off and Court was adjourned. SOMETIMES, A WORD OR TWO WILL GO A LONG WAY AND DO A BIG THING. ONE PERSON WILLING TO SPEAK UP CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE! [863]

FNSee Exodus 23:1, Deuteronomy 1:16-17, 19:15. [864]

FNPeter writes about willful ignorance in 2 Peter 3:5, For this they willingly are ignorant of. In other words, some people choose to be ignorant on certain matters: they do not want to know the truth. [865]

FNContrary to the religious leaders, Galilee was good for something! Something good would come out of Galilee! But the Sanhedrinists couldn’t see it because they were stuck in Bethlehem of Judea. [866]


FNWhen John wrote his Gospel account in Greek, as most believe, he wrote what is known as the original Greek manuscript. As time went on, handwritten copies of his manuscript were made. As we know from these copies still available to us today, they were not exact copies, but varied slightly from copyist to copyist. The earliest of these copies, or codices, now in possession date back to the fourth or sixth century A.D. In addition to these manuscripts, the Greek codices were translated into different languages such as Syriac, Coptic, Egyptian, Latin, Persian, Armenian, and Arabic. Each of these translations, in turn, had different versions. For example, when the Greek was translated into English each translator or group of translators came up with their own version, thus we have the KJV, NIV, NASB, RSV, NEB, and more.

So how does all this relate to the story of this woman? Well, of the seven earliest Greek manuscripts available today, the story is not found in six of them. Neither is it found in many of the early translations and versions. None of the early Greek fathers mention it in their exposition of John. And some of the words or expressions used in this story are not found or used anywhere else in the Gospel of John.

Based on these facts, commentators and scholars are divided on the authenticity and genuineness of this story. (A) Some don’t think the story is genuine. That is, they don’t think John wrote or included this story in his original Gospel account. They believe that a copyist inserted this story. (B) Others think the story is authentic. That is, they believe it actually took place, but that John didn’t write it. Indeed, in some manuscripts this story is a part of Luke’s Gospel account and is inserted after Luke 21:38. (C) Others believe the story is authentic and genuine, but it didn’t occur at this particular time, i.e. shortly after the Feast of Tabernacles. Indeed, in some manuscripts the story is found at the end of John’s Gospel account.

So is this story true or not? Accepting the Divine inspiration of all Scripture, I believe it is. Unlike the Greek fathers, some of the Latin fathers were familiar with the story. (1) Ambrose commented on it. (2) Jerome included the story in his Latin Vulgate translation of the New Testament which he completed in 384 A.D. According to him, the story was found in many Greek and Latin codices that were available to him in the famous library of manuscripts in Caesarea. Unfortunately, these codices are lost to us today. (3) Augustine was familiar with this story. In his De Adulterinus Conjugiis II:c7:III, he gave us an explanation for the story’s deletion from some of the earliest manuscripts. Based on our Lord’s words, Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more, Augustine asserted the duty of a husband to be reconciled to his wife if she repented of her adultery. “This, however, rather shocks the minds of some weak believers, or rather unbelievers and enemies of the Christian faith, insomuch that, afraid of its giving their wives impunity of sinning, they struck out of their copies of the Gospel this that our Lord did in pardoning the woman taken in adultery; as if He granted leave of sinning, when he said, Go and sin no more.” In other words, according to Augustine, some of the copyists deleted this story from their manuscripts because they feared the story gave the wrong impression of adultery, namely, that our Lord didn’t condemn adultery, hence, women would freely or readily commit adultery against their husbands. Remembering that Augustine lived in 400 A.D., his statement well explains the absence of the story in some of the manuscripts that were current to his time. (4) The Textus Receptus and many of the later manuscripts, as well as those during Medieval times, contain the story. (5) And lastly, besides all these, the tenor and spirit of the story agrees with the compassionate character of our Lord, as well as the adversarial disposition of the religious leaders. [868]

FNThis verse is really a continuation of the last verse of chapter 7. In the Greek manuscripts where this story is omitted the omission begins with John 7:53 and continues through John 8:11.

The Mount of Olives is located on the eastern side of Jerusalem. It is not just one solitary mount, but is, in actuality, a limestone ridge running about a mile long, parallel with the Kidron Valley. The summits along this ridge, beginning with the northernmost and going southerly, are called Galilee or Viri Galilaei, followed by the Mount of Ascension, the Mount of the Prophets and the Mount of Offense. Three paths lead from the Valley to different portions of the ridge. Two of these paths eventually merge with the road that leads to Bethany. Some scholars think that Jesus went up the Mount then traveled the short distance to Bethany where He spent the night. It is not, however, unreasonable to suppose that Jesus slept somewhere in the Mount. Luke 21:37 tells us that it was Jesus’ custom to sleep or lodge in the Mount: 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. [869]

FNThis is the only time in John’s account where the Pharisees and Scribes are mentioned together. [870]

FNDidáskalos, meaning teacher, instructor, doctor, or master. The official title of respect among the religious leaders and their disciples was Rhabbí, meaning my master. [871]

FNThe Law of Moses stipulated that in the case of a married woman, both the woman and the man in adultery be put to death. The manner of death, however, is not specified, Deuteronomy 22:22. Stoning was specifically mandated in cases involving a betrothed woman committing adultery within city limits, Deuteronomy 22:23-24. (Even though the marriage had not yet taken place, a Jewish betrothal was every bit legally binding as marriage. The only difference was the betrothed woman didn’t live with her future husband and they both didn’t consummate the marriage until the night of the wedding. Hence, a betrothed woman having intercourse with another man during her betrothal was counted as adultery.) It appears from Ezekiel 23:43-47 that married women caught in adultery were stoned as well. Later on, in the Talmud, death for a married adulteress was by strangulation. Whether the woman in our text was married or betrothed matters little. The point is, as an adulteress she was condemned to die.

A common, legal procedure observed in stoning was as follows. The condemned would be led out of the city with his or her hands tied. When the execution party got within 10 cubits of the execution site, the condemned would be given a last chance to confess his/her guilt in order that he/she might obtain mercy in the life hereafter. When they got within four cubits, the condemned man’s clothes would be taken off him, leaving him clad only with his loincloth. If the condemned was a woman, her clothes were not removed. The execution site would be on a hill or high platform, about twice a man’s height. One of the witnesses to the man’s crime (Deuteronomy 17:7), would either push him off the hill/platform, or throw a stone at his loins. If the condemned survived the fall or the first stone, two witnesses of the man’s crime would lift a humungous stone that was roughly the weight of two grown men and throw it on the condemned’s breast. This, generally, was the death blow. If, perchance, the condemned survived this second stone, the rest of the people would pick up stones and throw them at him until he died. In some cases, they would continue throwing stones at him until he was completely covered with stones.  [872]

FNPeriázo, to test, try, or examine closely. Used negatively, the word means to tempt or entice. [873]

FNKatagoréo, meaning to charge with an offense; to find fault so as to accuse and object. [874]

FNThis is the only time in Scripture where mention is made of Jesus writing. What did Jesus write? This question has intrigued scholars for centuries and I’m not sure that a definitive answer is possible. Naturally, there are many speculations. The most credible of these to me is based on the Armenian translation of the text which reads, in part: “He himself, bowing his head, was writing with his finger on the earth to declare their sins; and they were seeing their several sins on the stones.” In other words, Jesus was writing down the sins of these who had brought the adulterous woman to Him. It’s instructive to note that the word used for write in the Textus Receptus is grápho. But in the Nestle Text, the word used is katagrápho, meaning to write against. Hence, from this latter text, it appears that Jesus was writing something against these men, thus reinforcing the Armenian translation. [875]

FNGe means earth, thus implying that Jesus wrote on the ground. This would be hard to reconcile if this incident took place in the Temple with its marbled floors. However, it would not be unreasonable for Jesus to write on the floor since the Temple traffic would bring on a layer of dust or dirt thereon. [876]

FNAs though he heard them not is found in the Textus Receptus but not in many ancient manuscripts. Why didn’t Jesus readily answer their question? Once again, the speculations are many. I believe Jesus didn’t want to act as a Judge in either the magisterial or civil sense of the term. He was a Teacher, not a Judge (see Luke 12:13-14). When pressed, however, He reluctantly gave His answer. [877]

FNThe word used is anamártetos, sinless one; a person who hasn’t sinned. [878]

FNDuring Jesus’ time, the Jews were given a lot of liberty to practice their Judaism, but Rome reserved for herself the power and right of execution. That is, the Jews weren’t allowed to kill or execute anyone—whether for political, criminal, or religious reasons. The Sanhedrin itself could not enforce the death penalty. (The Jews, however, weren’t beyond taking matters into their own hands and executing a person without Roman justice or consent. The stoning of Stephen in Acts 7 is one such incident.) Persons sentenced to death were taken before the Roman Magistrate or Governor for trial and punishment or execution.

Among the Romans, however, adultery was not punishable by death and, generally speaking, the Jews didn’t bother to prosecute adulterers before Roman Law. In this way, then, the sin of adultery was largely unpunished during Jesus’ time.

Now some scholars think that the trap against Jesus was, in part, designed to make Him look bad in the eyes of the Romans. Jesus would tell them to kill the adulteress in accordance with Moses’ Law when, in reality, they were forbidden to do it by Roman Law. Jesus, in essence, would be accused of inciting the people to disregard and disobey Roman Law, hence inciting rebellion against Rome, which was, in turn, a criminal activity punishable with death. The plan, then, was to get Jesus in trouble with the Romans and let the Romans put Him to death. [879]

FNIt’s interesting to note that in the court proceeding of the Sanhedrin, the younger justices would be the first to pronounce their verdict against the accused, followed by the verdicts of the eldest justices. They were required to issue their verdict first so that they wouldn’t be influenced by the verdicts and opinions of the eldest. In the present case with Jesus and the adulterous woman, the “verdict” not to stone was reversed. The departure of the accusers, beginning with the eldest, suggests that those who lived the longest had the most time to sin, hence, were more easily or readily convicted by their sins. [880]

FNOnly the accusers left, but the people who were audience to Jesus’ teaching remained to witness the conclusion of this incident. [881]

FNChristians use the word Lord as a token of respect for Divinity. But among the Jews of that time Kúrios was simply a title of respect, much like the word Sir used today.

Standing in the woman’s place, it ought to fill us with holy fear to know that our fate lies exclusively in the hands of the Lord. What He says determines whether we’ll be stoned to death or not. The threat of death is a good thing for those who seek to live: it deters them from doing things worthy of death. Unfortunately, for those who are bent on fulfilling the lusts of their flesh, not even the threat of death will deter them from doing things worthy of death. [882]

FNThe word condemn, used here and in verse 10, is katakríno, which means to judge against, hence, to find guilty and pass sentence against; to convict, condemn, or damn. [883]

FNIt’s interesting to ponder how these Pharisees and Scribes caught this woman in adultery. Did the woman’s husband peek in on his wife to her unawares and then ran to the authorities with the information? Did a neighbor or a witness report the adultery to these religious leaders? Did these men just happen to walk in the house, or peek into the window, and find the adulterous couple in bed? Was the adulterer paid to do this so that these authorities would have an adulteress to bring before Jesus? We won’t know for sure on this side of eternity and it would indeed be unjust for me to claim this latter point. Nonetheless a paid adulterer must remain a viable explanation when you consider that the Sanhedrin was not above hiring Judas for his betrayal service (Matthew 26:3-16) and not above using false witnesses in an effort to condemn our Lord (Matthew 26:59-60). [884]

FNThese religious leaders would prevail before the Sanhedrin if they could get Jesus to take a stance against the Law of Moses. Thus, they were hoping Jesus would forgive the woman and let her go free. On a previous occasion, some Pharisees and Scribes came from Jerusalem to Galilee to find fault with Jesus (Matthew 15). But in that encounter Jesus took a stance against rabbinical law, not the Mosaic law itself. In the present case, they were putting the Law of Moses on center stage and trying to get Jesus to disavow, discredit, or disobey the Law—in the presence of a whole multitude of people who, incidentally, would serve as witnesses to the alleged crime. The timing of this incident, you see, is not accidental. It occurred at a time when Jesus was surrounded by a lot of people who would, hopefully in the eyes of these leaders, witness Jesus’ disdain or disregard for the Law. [885]

FNOther trap questions against Jesus include the question of divorce in Matthew 19:3 and the question of paying tribute to Caesar in Matthew 22:15-17. [886]

FNThe paradox in this incident is that the Pharisees and Scribes were doing something right (that is, seeking the death penalty for this adulteress), but doing it for the wrong reason (to trap our Lord into contradicting the Mosaic Law). They were doing something right in order to do something wrong! It’s kinda like stepping forward with secret information (telling the truth) in order to hurt your enemies (the truth becomes your means of retaliation and vengeance). What you’re doing is right Scripturally (stoning the adulteress and telling the truth), but your motive or reason for doing it makes you wrong! [887]

FNEzekiel 18:4, The soul that sinneth, it shall die. See also Numbers 15:22-31. [888]

FNSome mistakenly interpret Christ as abolishing the death penalty. But clearly, in light of Romans 13:1-4, Jesus did not remove the power of the sword from out of the hands of the State. He did, however, remove it from out of the hands of the Church. As Christians, we are not to condemn or kill. Had the Church learned this lesson well multitudes of people would not have perished at the hands of Christians, such as those in the Crusades and the Salem witch hunts. [889]

FNThat is, sodomy with the opposite sex. Sodomy involves anal and/or oral sex. There is also such a thing as sodomy with the same sex, called homosexuality among men and lesbianism among women. Bisexuality would be sodomy with both sexes. While homosexuality is an illicit sexual relationship, I won’t discuss it here because I want to stay with illicit relationships between males and females. [890]

FNPórnee, a derivative of pórnos, is translated harlot or whore in our KJV. [891]

FNThe common practice whereby two people live together being unmarried to each other. A lot of people, including professing Christians, don’t think that cohabitation is sinful or wrong because they believe that God sees cohabitation as being a genuine marriage. The love is there, the commitment is there, hence, it’s a marriage in God’s sight.

Interestingly enough, the Bible addresses a particular case of cohabitation in John 4. A Samaritan woman had been married several times and was now living with a man she had not married. To her honesty and credit, the woman herself admitted that the man she was living with was not her husband. And Jesus Himself concurred. John 4:16-18 reads, Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. {17} The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: {18} For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. In other words, what the woman said was true. The truth is, dear friends, cohabitation is not a marriage in God’s sight. It’s fornication. It’s sin. [892]

FNBeing married to an in-law is one example of an unlawful marriage (Mark 6:18). Marriage or remarriage to a man or woman who is divorced on unscriptural ground is adultery (Matthew 19:9). Polygamy is another example of an unlawful marriage. [893]

FNThis, incidentally, is one of the lessons learned from dating and it’s one of dating’s biggest problems. That is, dating doesn’t foster permanent commitment between lovers. If you get tired of your girlfriend or boyfriend, you simply break off the date and go find another. There’s no lasting commitment involved. And because the commitment isn’t lasting, lovers do not learn to work through the problems that are involved in any kind of human relationship. [893a]

FNWhen you lose the absolute standard of right and wrong, that is, you refuse to live by the dictates of God’s Word and instead choose to define for yourself what’s right or wrong, you invariably end up justifying what you once knew was wrong. IF YOU WANT TO DO SOMETHING BAD ENOUGH, YOU'LL FIND A WAY TO DO IT AND YOU'LL FIND A LOGICAL, EMOTIONAL, OR PRACTICAL REASON TO EXPLAIN AWAY THE ABSOLUTE TRUTHS OF GOD'S WORD. [894[

FNMatthew 24:37-39, But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. {38} For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, {39} And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. [895]

FNSee Revelation 2:20-23 for another example of sexual sin within the church, committed by people who professed themselves to be Christians. ADULTERY AMONG, OR BETWEEN, CHURCH-GOERS OR CHRISTIANS IS WRONG! [896]

FNThe KJV uses the word lasciviousness. The NLT's lustful pleasures is okay, but it doesn't bring out the full force of the Greek text of Scripture. The word means to be licentious or not have any sort of moral discipline or restraint, especially with reference to sexual conduct or activity. An excellent, modern equivalent would be sexual promiscuity. [897]

FNThe word in the Greek text of Scripture is a sodomite, referring to men who have sex with men. [898]

FN2 Corinthians 6:14-15 reads, Be ye not unequally yokeed together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? {15} And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? [899]

FNNon-resistance, I know, applies to persecution. But I am not at all sure that it applies in matters of an illicit, or unwanted, love. My personal opinion for you sisters is slap and kick the fellow, but at the very least, holler and run. [900]

FNThis discourse takes up the rest of the eighth chapter of John and is notable as being the clearest revelation of Jesus’ Divinity. Now in Jesus’ previous discourses in John, Jesus never hid the fact of His Divinity. To Nicodemus He revealed Himself as the Son of God (John 3:17). He reiterated this claim in Chapters 5 and 6. But here in Chapter 8, Jesus is quite explicit and there is no mistaking what He said. In fact, He was so explicit that the Jews tried to stone Him right there in the Temple (verse 59)! Who is Jesus? He is the great I AM. [901]

FNThis is the second of the eight great I AM’s in John’s Gospel account. The eight are as follows: I am the bread of life (6:35), I am the light of the world (8:12), I AM (John 8:58), I am the door (10:9), I am the good shepherd (10:11) I am the resurrection and the life (11:25), I am the way, truth, and the life (14:6), and I am the vine (15:5). [902]

FNOne man’s testimony isn’t valid. Where’s your second witness? Let him step forward and testify! [903]

FNThe Court of Women is sometimes called the Treasury because it was here, in one portion of the Court, where people’s monetary offerings were received. Along one side of the wall in the Court sat thirteen trumpet-shaped chests. Each chest, called ‘Trumpet’, was clearly marked for a specific offering. The half-shekel Temple tribute went into Trumpets 1 & 2. Women who came for purification after the birth of a child deposited their offerings in Trumpets 3 & 4. These offerings, in essence, purchased the pigeons or turtledoves used in this sacrifice of purification (Leviticus 12:8). Offerings placed in the fifth Trumpet went towards the purchase of the wood that was burned on the Altar. Offerings in the sixth went towards the purchase of incense. The seventh was used for the upkeep of the golden vessels. If a man or woman was going to offer a required sacrifice, let’s say a sacrifice for some sin committed, or else just wanted to make some kind of thank offering, they would set aside a certain amount of money for the offering (“Corban”). If they saved up more money than was actually required for the purchase of the sacrifice, that extra money was deposited in the remaining Trumpets. The eighth was reserved for whatever money was left over after the purchase of a sin-offering. Similarly, the ninth through the thirteenth Trumpets were used for any monies left over after the purchase of a trespass offering, the offering of birds, and the offering for a Nazarite and a cleansed leper. Additional voluntary offerings were also deposited in these chests. It is into one of these thirteen Trumpets that the widow gave her mites (Mark 12:41, Luke 21:1).

In addition to these Trumpets there was a special treasury chamber where the monies from the thirteen Trumpets were stored.

Another chamber was reserved for those who wished to give in secret to the poor. The poor who did not wish to openly receive charity came into this chamber to receive a portion of the alms and food deposited therein.

Naturally, the Temple held the financial wealth of the nation and conquering armies headed straight to the Temple to plunder its wealth. [904]

FNJesus’ claim to be the Light of the world, coming as it did at the close of Tabernacles, was quite timely and could have referred to a number of things that the Jews would easily have understood. (1) In the first place, Tabernacles was a celebration of the Jews’ wanderings and preservation in their forty-year desert travel to the Promised Land. They were led by the Pillars of Cloud and Fire which illumined their path and set the route for them to follow. By following the Light, then, the wandering Jews were brought to their final destination. In much the same way, anyone who follows Christ will not walk in darkness but will have life-giving Light.

(2) Another thing that the Light could refer to was a ceremony called ‘The Illumination of the Temple’ which took place on the first night of Tabernacles. Four great candelabra were placed in the Court of the Women and when darkness came, these candelabra were lit. Their light, it was said, was so bright that it lit every courtyard in Jerusalem! It was as if day had come in the midst of night. In much the same way, Jesus is the Light that pierces and dispels the darkness of sin, ignorance, and unbelief (1 Thessalonians 5:4, 1 John 1:6).

(3) Besides these earthly allusions to Light, Light in Jewish thought was commonly associated with Divinity. Note the following sample of verses.

Psalms 27:1, The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Isaiah 60:19, The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.

Micah 7:8, Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me.

When Jesus claimed to be the Light of the world, then, He was, in essence, identifying Himself with God and letting His Divinity be known.

(4) And lastly, Light was synonymous with Messiah. In fact, many rabbis in Israel believed that the name of Messiah was Light. This was, in part, taken from the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 42:6, I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; and Isaiah 49:6, I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth. It is to these prophecies that Simeon proclaimed baby Jesus to be a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel (Luke 2:32). Jesus’ proclamation of Himself as Light, then, was proclamation of Himself as Israel’s Messiah. [905]

FNAt the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death. [906]

FNThe Jews believed that the lowest depths of Hades were reserved for those who commit suicide. If Jesus was to kill Himself, then certainly these Jews would not follow Him to the depths of Hades! [907]

FNThe last word he is not a part of the original Greek text, but was added by the King James translators. The text literally reads, For if you do not believe that I AM, you shall die in your sins. [908]

FNIn other words, they were supposed to believe that Jesus is God. Name a cult or false religion: NO ONE IS SAVED WHO DOES NOT BELIEVE THAT JESUS IS GOD.

Incidentally, this is the first of three times that Jesus claims Himself to be the I AM in this particular Johannine discourse.  See verses 24, 28, and 58. [909]

FNThis is a prophetic allusion to Jesus’ crucifixion. See also John 3:14 and 12:32. Jesus’ use of the word ye was likewise prophetic. These Jewish leaders would eventually succeed in putting Him to death. [910]

FNJesus here addresses the Jews who believed on Him. He doesn’t ignore them, but to the contrary, He speaks to them and instructs them. Brethren, when you get saved Christ comes to you and instructs you. There are some things He wants to say to you, some things He wants you to know. Christianity, my friends, doesn’t begin and end with an initial profession of faith in Jesus. It’s an on-going learning experience. [911]

FNThe word indeed in the Greek is alethós, which means ‘truly or of a truth’. There are many professing Christians or disciples in this world, but true discipleship to Christ involves not only an initial profession of faith in Christ, but also a continuance in Christ’s Word. In the vernacular, we’ve got to stay with the Word. True disciples are those who take the time to study and know God’s Word, who believe and obey it. In the end, it matters little what you say about yourself being a Christian. It’s what you do, the way you live your life, and the role the Word of God plays in your life, that determines if you’re really, truly, a Christian. [912]

FNIn order for the truth to set you free you must first know it. Ignorance keeps you enslaved! [913]

FNIn their pride these Jews refused to acknowledge the fact that many years of their history were spent in bondage. First, they were slaves in Egypt. Then, during the time of the Judges, they were vassals to the Mesopotamians, Moabites, Philistines, Canaanites, Midianites, and Ammonites. With the end of the monarchy they went into exile in Assyria and Babylon. And finally, even as Jesus spoke these words, the Jews were in subjection to Rome.

Now the rebelliousness and hardheadedness of the Jews is understood only as one understands the Jews’ undying devotion to liberty. This devotion, in part, stemmed from the Law which forbade a Jew from making another Jew his slave. Leviticus 25:39-43 reads, And if thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bondservant: {40} But as an hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubilee: {41} And then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return. {42} For they are my servants, which I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: they shall not be sold as bondmen. {43} Thou shalt not rule over him with rigour; but shalt fear thy God.

The many rebellions and massacres of the Jews in New Testament times were flamed by the Jews’ insatiable desire for liberty. Josephus, in his Antiquities of the Jews, Book XVIII, Chapter I:6, wrote that the followers of Judas of Galilee, leader of a famous revolt against Rome, “have an inviolable attachment to liberty, and they say that God is to be their only Ruler and Lord.”

For Jesus to insinuate that these Jews were slaves was an insult to most Jews. But Jesus wasn’t talking about slavery to men. He was talking about slavery to sin. [914]

FNThose who are free to do whatever they want to do, or live however they want to live, are not really free. They’re slaves. They do what sin compels them to do. FREEDOM TO SIN, YOU SEE, IS REALLY BONDAGE TO SIN. True freedom is not the freedom to do whatever you want to do: it’s freedom from sin’s tyranny whereby you don’t have to do what sin otherwise compels you to do. TRUE FREEDOM IS THE FREEDOM NOT TO SIN. [915]

FNA slave could be killed or sold at will. [916]

FNSince a slave cannot free a slave, Jesus’ words here could be construed to mean He was claiming sinlessness for Himself.

Additionally, there are two things worth noting here. One, FREEDOM FROM SIN IS FOUND IN JESUS AND IN NONE OTHER. Friends, you can’t be loosed from the shackles of sin without coming to Christ. Freedom is found in salvation.

And two, when Christ sets you free from sin, you’re truly set free and sin no longer has any hold or sway on you, you’re completely free, you’re not bound or forced to continue doing the sinful things you once did. You may be tempted to sin, but sin no longer forces you to sin because you’re free now, sin is no longer your master, you can walk away from the temptation without sinning. If sin still has a hold on you, you’re either not truly saved or you’re in earnest need of deliverance from oppression. [917]

FNPhysical lineage or descent from Abraham did not make a person a true child of Abraham. Years later, Paul wrote that they are not all Israel, which are of Israel (Romans 9:6, see also 2:28-29). [918]

FNThis is the only time in Scripture where Jesus referred to Himself as a Man. He usually referred to Himself as the Son of man. This verse is often cited by cultists like the Socinians to deny the Divinity of Jesus. [919]

FNJohn the Baptist tried to dispel this notion at one of his baptismal services: But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? {8} Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: {9} And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham (Matthew 3:7-9).

Years later, the apologist of the early Church, Justin Martyr, had a conversation with a Jew by the name of Trypho who claimed that “the eternal kingdom will be given to those who are the seed of Abraham according to the flesh, even though they be sinners and unbelievers and disobedient to God” (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 140). [920]

FNIdolatry was, in Old Testament times, portrayed as the sin of adultery so that a nation given to idolatry was said to be children of whoredoms (Hosea 2:4). [921]

FNIt was because of his lie that Adam and Eve disobeyed God and plunged the entire human race into sin and death. After Eden came Cain, the first murderer. [922]

FNElégcho means ‘to convict or find fault with’. There were many things about Jesus that the Pharisees didn’t like or agree with. In fact, they thought He was a demoniac (John 8:48). But the things they didn’t like did not necessarily or automatically constitute sin: they couldn’t charge Jesus with sin! Keep that in mind the next time you’re tempted to demonize a person you don’t like. You may not like a person’s personality, methodologies, opinions, beliefs, or convictions; but that by itself doesn’t necessarily make him or her sinful or guilty of sin. [923]


FNA Samaritan, meaning a half-breed, not a true full-blooded Jew. To call a Jew a Samaritan was a real insult and a low blow. It was the worst possible thing you could say about a Jew! Here we see the Jews resorting to name-calling in an attempt to make Jesus look bad and unbelievable. [925]

FNJesus wasn’t talking about physical death, but spiritual-eternal death in Hell. So how do we avoid Hell? By believing in Jesus (3:16), obeying His Word (8:51), and abiding in Him (15:6). Brethren, what good is our faith without obedience? BELIEVING THE WORD IS GOOD, BUT NOT OBEYING IT IS DAMNABLE. IT TAKES BOTH FAITH AND OBEDIENCE TO ENTER THE KINGDOM (Matthew 7:21-23). [926]

FNAs good as Abraham was, he nevertheless died. All good men have died. So who are you to promise anyone they won’t die? Are you greater than Abraham?” The Jews asked Jesus if He was greater than their father Abraham, v. 53. The Samaritans asked Jesus if He was greater than their father Jacob, John 4:12. [927]

FNJesus would be lying if He said something that He knew wasn’t true. Friends, you can trust everything Jesus says because Jesus isn’t a liar! [928]

FNThe Jews believed that Abraham at some point in his life, while he was yet alive, saw a vision of the latter days and the advent of the Messiah to Israel. Some rabbis believed Abraham saw the vision in Genesis 15:1, or else in 15:12ff. Therefore, what Jesus was saying about Abraham rejoicing to see His day was not new. [929]

FNThe Levites retired from Tabernacle or Temple service at the age of fifty (see Numbers 4:3). Jesus was still young. In fact, He wasn’t even old enough to retire. How could He have possibly seen Abraham? [930]

FNNote that Jesus didn’t say He saw Abraham. He didn’t deny it, but all He said was, Abraham saw His day. The Jews, nevertheless, understood His statement as meaning that Jesus saw Abraham. How was this possible? Abraham lived about 1,900 years prior to this! Jesus either saw him in vision or else He was alive in Abraham’s day. Clearly, from the Jews’ reference to Jesus not yet being fifty years old, they understood Jesus to mean that He was alive during the time of Abraham. To the Jews, this was truly incredulous! [931]

FNI AM is the name of God (Exodus 3:14). The name denotes the timeless, ageless, eternal nature of God. He never came into being, He never grows old and dies. He has always been the eternal present. For Jesus to claim He was I AM was tantamount to making Himself God! Even though He was a Man, He could still say He was eternal, He never came into being, and He shall never cease to be. The writer of Hebrews puts it this way: Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever (Hebrews 13:8). Jesus was, as the angel told Joseph, God with us (Matthew 1:23). [932]

FNStones in the Temple? It must be remembered that Herod’s Temple was still being reconstructed, renovated, or enlarged at this time. In fact, the Temple renovation wasn’t completed until 64 A.D., over thirty years after Jesus’ death. It is therefore not unreasonable to assume that there would be stones somewhere in the Temple or on the Temple Mount that could be used in stoning Jesus to death. [933]

FNAmongst the Jews, it was blasphemy for a man to claim he was God. Now according to Law, blasphemy was punishable by death (Leviticus 24:16). Hence, they took up stones to kill Him. Even though it was against Roman law for the Jews to execute a criminal, the religious leaders were not beyond violating the law. They wouldn’t even need to put Jesus on trial. The supposed blasphemy warranted immediate death.

This attempted stoning of Jesus in the Temple probably shattered the disciples’ Messianic notion of Jesus reigning in Jerusalem. With this incident it became obvious to them that the religious leaders weren’t going to accept Jesus as Israel’s Messiah. But if they only remembered Jesus’ words in Galilee, they would have understood that this attempted stoning was a fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy concerning His rejection in Jerusalem. Once again, Jesus’ words proved true! [934]

FNThe verb ekrúbe is passive. Thus, the verse should be translated, But Jesus was hidden. The fact that He was able to pass right through their midst without being seen or taken strongly hints that the eyes of these Jews were prevented from seeing or recognizing Jesus. A similar thing happened in Nazareth (Luke 4:28-30) and also on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-16). I believe the same thing happened to Peter when the angels delivered him out of prison in Acts 12:6-10. In this way, there is Biblical basis to believe that the Lord will temporarily “blind” the eyes of one’s persecutors so that they cannot see or recognize the child of God.

Incidentally, it should be noted that IT'S NOT ALWAYS AN ACT OF COWARDICE FOR A SAINT OF GOD TO AVOID OR ESCAPE CAPTURE. BRETHREN, IT'S NOT UNCHRISTIAN TO FLEE WHEN YOU CAN (Matthew 10:23). Jesus did. Why? Because He knew it wasn’t His time to die. If, and until, such a time comes for you at the hands of your enemies, you can run and you can ask the Lord to bless your running. [935]

FNEphesians 2:8-9, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: {9} Not of works, lest any man should boast. [936]

FNThe exact sequence of events after this attempted stoning in the Temple is difficult to ascertain. Broadus, Robertson, Scroggie, and others, believe that Jesus stayed in Jerusalem after this Temple conflict. He healed the blind man (John 9:1-41) and gave His discourse on the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-21). He then left Jerusalem and conducted His missionary tour of Judea in conjunction with the mission of the seventy. About two months later, He returned to Jerusalem for the Feast of Dedication (John 10:22).

While one cannot be absolutely certain about the exact chronology of Jesus, I favor the chronology that Thomas & Gundry offer. After this attempted stoning in the Temple, Jesus departed Jerusalem, sent seventy of His disciples on an evangelistic mission, then conducted a brief ministry tour of Judea. Two months later, just prior to the Feast of Dedication, Jesus returned to Jerusalem and it was at that time that He healed the blind man and gave His Good Shepherd discourse.

The reason why I favor this chronology over Broadus’ & Robertson’s landmark work is: (1) Jesus’ immediate departure from Jerusalem would give time for the religious leaders’ tempers to subside. (2) Aside from this incident, Jesus was nearly stoned on two other occasions: once in Nazareth (Luke 4:28-30) and another time in the Temple during the Feast of Dedication (John 10:31-40). In both incidents, Jesus immediately departed from the area of conflict. (3) The Dedication narrative with the religious leaders (John 10:22-38) flows most smoothly if the Good Shepherd discourse was given a short time previously, rather than the two months required in Broadus’ & Robertson’s chronology. [937]

FNThis passage of Scripture graphically illustrates how little was written, hence, how little we know, about the life of Christ. Here are some of the things we don’t know.

(1) We don’t know by name who these seventy were. They are only named once collectively as a group and are never again mentioned in Scripture.

(2) We don’t know where these seventy men were from. Because their Gospel ministry presupposes their familiarity with Jesus and His teachings, and because Jesus has spent most of His time heretofore in Galilee, it’s quite possible that these seventy were, at least in some part, Galileans. It is, however, altogether possible that these seventy were mostly Judeans since they would be more acquainted with the towns of Judea and Perea to which they were sent. Although Jesus spent little time in Jerusalem heretofore, He nevertheless had a following in Judea. This is evidenced by the words of Jesus’ brothers when they urged Him to go to the Feast of Tabernacles: Depart hence, and go into Judea, that thy disciples also(that is, thy disciples in Judea) may see the works that thou doest (John 7:3, His disciples in Galilee had already seen His works).

(3)We don’t know exactly where these seventy disciples went. They probably ministered in the cities and towns of Judea. John’s use ofthe word again in John 10:40 leads many scholars to believe that Jesus and the seventy also ministered in Perea prior to the Feast of Dedication as recorded in John 10:22-39. While the word again could have reference to this ministry of Christ and the seventy in Perea, it could also refer to a time when Jesus was in Perea or the Trans-Jordan. As far as we can ascertain from the written records, Jesus was in the Trans-Jordan region only once prior to this commissioning of the seventy and that was at His baptistm (John 1:28-42). He spent two or three days there and it was in this area where He enlisted His first disciples.

(4) We don’t know exactly how long this ministry of the seventy disciples lasted. It took place after the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:14-10:21) and before the Feast of Dedication (John 10:22-39). The latter feast was in December, hence, the ministry of the seventy lasted anywhere from one to three months.

(5) The ministry of the seventy was preparatory for Jesus’ coming visit and ministry in these towns. Whether Jesus and His disciples ministered in every town within Judea and Perea is not known.

(6) Jesus’ rebuke of Chorazin evidences the fact that He worked miracles in this Galilean town. However, the Gospel narratives do not record a single miracle performed in that town. In fact, none of the Gospel writers even has Jesus going to that town! This aspect of our Lord’s ministry simply was not recorded.

Brethren, there were many things Jesus said and did that were never written down (John 21:25). Hence, it should be kept in mind that the Gospel narratives were not intended to be a complete biography of the life of Christ, but merely a sketch sufficient to bring a person to saving faith in Christ. [938]

FNSome manuscripts, including those from which the NIV was translated, state that seventy-two were chosen for this particular mission. The Textus Receptus, from which the KJV was translated, put the number at seventy. I don’t know why Jesus chose seventy, but the number itself is significant.

(1) There were seventy Israelites who came to Egypt and dwelled there during the time of famine (Genesis 46:27).

(2) Moses chose seventy men to assist him in governing the infant nation (Numbers 11:16-17). These seventy were chief elders of the twelve tribes.

(3) The Great Sanhedrin of the Jews was composed of seventy men, not counting the President or High Priest of the Court.

And (4) based on the Hebrew text of Genesis 10, the Jews supposed that there were seventy nations and languages of the world.

Perhaps incidentally, there were seventy palm trees at the oasis in Elim (Exodus 15:27) and there were seventy men who translated the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek, hence, the LXX (Seventy) or Septuagint (seven decades, or seventy).

These considerations aside, it’s instructive to note from this number that there were many men who followed the Lord besides the twelve. The fact that Jesus found and chose seventy to proclaim the Gospel shows that there were at least seventy disciples who followed Him reasonably long enough to be acquainted with His teachings. Obviously, the Lord would not have sent seventy men out to preach the Gospel if these men weren’t familiar with Him or the Gospel, nor would He have sent them out if they weren’t true believers in the cause of Christ. Hence, whenever we read of a multitude of people around Jesus we must include this seventy, at least in part, in that number. What I’m trying to say is, the number of disciples who followed Jesus from town to town was probably much larger than just the twelve. [939]

FNJesus also sent His twelve apostles two by two (Mark 6:7). Is this an apostolic or evangelistic pattern for ministry? Perhaps so. As we read through the Book of Acts and the Epistles, we see this two by two arrangement repeated many times: Peter and John ministering in the Temple (Acts 3:1-4:23) and again in Samaria (Acts 8:14-25); Barnabas and Saul in their first missionary journey (Acts 13:1-14:28); Judas and Silas (Acts 15:27), Barnabas and John Mark (Acts 15:36-39), Paul and Silas (Acts 15:40-18:22), Timothy and Silas (Acts 17:14), and Timothy and Erastus (Acts 19:22). While ministers often worked in pairs, there is no compelling reason to prohibit a minister from working by himself: Philip worked by himself in Samaria (Acts 8:5-13) and Peter alone ministered to Cornelius (Acts 10).

The thing that I would like for you to see is the mission of the seventy had a plan and an organization. Jesus had an idea of where He wanted to go, that is, which cities and towns He wanted to visit. He organized seventy men to go before Him, and He told these seventy men which towns they were to go to. Obviously, each pair of disciples knew where they would be going. Had it been otherwise, the ministry of the disciples would have overlapped, some towns would have been saturated with the Gospel while others would have been neglected or ignored. Do you see what I mean? There was organization involved.

Brethren, JUST BECAUSE SOMETHING'S PLANNED OR ORGANIZED DOESN'T AUTOMATICALLY MEAN THE LORD'S NOT IN IT. To be sure, a lot of planning and organizing today is man telling God what to do, how to do it, where to do it, and when to do it. But the thing that we see here with the seventy is, the fulfillment of God’s will, at times, involves some measure of planning and organization.

We see a similar thing in the care of the widows in the early church: And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. {2} Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. {3} Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. {4} But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. {5} And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: {6} Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them (Acts 6:1-6, see also 4:32-35).

The point is, it’s possible to plan and organize how you’re going to go about doing the Lord’s will—just make sure the Lord’s in the plan and organization. Pray it through. Godly planning is when the Lord makes the plan and you follow through on it. Fleshly planning is when you make the plan and expect the Lord to follow through on it. [940]

FNJesus’ travels and ministry outside Jerusalem was undoubtedly a welcome respite from the persecution He was getting from the Sanhedrin and Pharisees, John 7. [941]

FNJesus urged His disciples to pray this same prayer for laborers when He sent His twelve disciples out on their own evangelistic mission (Matthew 9:35-11:1). Brethren, A PRAYER FOR LABORERS IS ONE PRAYER GOD WILL ANSWER! If these incidents in Matthew and Luke set a precedent, God answers this prayer relatively quickly. In both Scripture texts He urges us to pray, then He immediately proceeds and sends forth laborers into the harvest. I believe we have sufficient Scriptural basis to press in for a quick manifestation of laborers. It doesn’t have to take years to fill that need! At the same time, the laborers you want are the laborers who are sent by the Lord Himself: Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. The presence of hirelings, false ministers, and deceivers in the harvest testifies to the fact that not every laborer in the harvest has a direct, personal commission from the Lord. [942]

FNBalántion, a money bag or purse. The disciples weren’t supposed to bring along any money. They were to live by faith and trust the Lord to supply for them. They were to live on the kindness, generosity, and provisions of the saints, verse 7. [943]

FNA leather bag or sack in which provisions were carried. The seventy weren’t supposed to bring along any food: it would be provided for them by their hosts. Péran was also used as a money bag and was an ancient equivalent of our offering plate today. Whether Jesus meant it as such is not certain. [944]

FNRabbinical law exempted a Jew from giving and returning salutations if he was praying or reciting the Shema or Hallel. It is doubtful, however, that this was what Jesus had in mind. When we look back on this incident and see that this entire mission was accomplished within the space of one to three months, the element of haste and urgency seems to me to be the logical understanding of Jesus’ words here. That is, there wasn’t much time available to stop, greet, and chat with others along the way. These seventy all had destinations that they had to reach and they were to get there as quickly as possible and engage in the ministry of the Gospel: they could not afford to be hindered, distracted, or detoured!

This sense of urgency is illustrated in 2 Kings 4:29. The Shunammite’s son had died and the woman came to Elisha for help. Sensing the need for immediate action, Elijah commanded his servant Gehazi to travel quickly to the Shunammite’s house and restore the dead child to life: Then he said to Gehazi, Gird up thy loins, and take my staff in thine hand, and go thy way: if thou meet any man, salute him not; and if any salute thee, answer him not again: and lay my staff upon the face of the child. Sometimes, the need is so urgent that there’s no time for socializing or idle chatter. [945]

FNFive notable exceptions are:

(1) Jesus didn’t forbid them from going to the Gentiles and Samaritans (see Matthew 10:5).

(2) He didn’t commission them to cast out demons or raise the dead (see Matthew 10:8). The fact that the seventy nevertheless cast out demons (Luke 10:17) tells us that Luke didn’t record every word of Jesus’ commission. The absence of the commission was more an omission on Luke’s part, rather than Jesus’ prohibition against delivering the oppressed or the raising of the dead.

(3) Jesus didn’t give an extensive treatment on the persecution that would follow (see Matthew 10:17-42). If He did, He chose not to include this treatment when He inspired Luke to write this Gospel account.

(4) Jesus instructed the seventy to eat what was set before them (Luke 10:8). No such instruction was given to the twelve.

And (5) the seventy weren’t to greet any man as they traveled along the way (Luke 10:4).

The similarities between this commission to the seventy and the one to the twelve are as follows.

Luke’s Commission to the 70

Matthew’s Commission to the 12










10:14-15, 11:24





FNThis was the familiar and customary Shalom greeting or salutation with which Jews greeted each other. See Genesis 43:23, Judges 6:23, 19:20, 1 Samuel 25:6, Daniel 10:19, 1 Peter 5:14. Jesus greeted His disciples in this manner, Luke 24:36, John 20:19,21,26. Jews of today still greet one another in this way. [947]

FNA person was often referred to as a son of whatever was characteristic of him. Hence, a peaceable or peace-loving man was called a son of peace. Wise people were children of wisdom, Matthew 11:19. Disobedient people were children of disobedience, Ephesians 2:2. Sinners destined for God’s wrath were children of wrath, Ephesians 2:3. Someone damned was a son of perdition, John 17:12. A wicked or worthless fellow was a son of Belial, (meaning, worthless, Judges 19:22). [948]

FNWords were more than just words to a Jew. Words had the power to impart a blessing, in this case, peace; or else the power to retain or withhold a blessing. The word turn in the Greek is more accurately translated return. In other words, the blessing of peace bestowed upon a household could be retracted and returned if the household subsequently proved unworthy or antagonistic towards the Gospel. Peace is not to be bestowed upon those who are not peaceable or peace-loving with respect to the Gospel. [949]

FNThis particular phrase, the labourer is worthy of his hire, bears the unique distinction of being the only expression in the Gospel accounts that is quoted in the Epistles: Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. {18} For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn (Deuteronomy 25:4). And, The labourer is worthy of his reward (Luke 10:7 as quoted in 1 Timothy 5:17-18). Paul’s use of For the scripture saith, leads many to believe that by the time Paul wrote this Epistle, circa 62-64 A.D., the Gospel According to Luke was already completed and regarded by the early Church as part of inspired Scripture. [950]

FNThe seventy were not supposed to be finicky in food, nor insistent on what kinds of food were to be prepared for them. They were to be content with what was prepared and eat what everyone else in the house ate. Additionally, the double mention of eating what was given them (verse 7 and 8) leads some to believe that the seventy ministered to the Gentiles as well and some were probably invited to stay in their homes. In that case, they were not to be concerned about rabbinical laws of dietary uncleanness, but were to eat whatever foods were prepared for them. Indeed, if this were true, it reinforces the notion that the disciples ministered in Perea which was home to a substantial Gentile population. Incidentally, if you’ve ever heard your parents or anyone else tell you to eat what’s set before you, that expression was taken from this Scripture verse in Luke. [951]

FNThe power and commission to heal was not given only to the twelve apostles, but was given to all disciples and followers of Christ, Mark 16:17-18, And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; {18} 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. In our day, only doctors can heal. The believers are supposed to do the praying and let the doctors do the healing. Doctors, it is said, are the only ones authorized to heal. They’re the only ones capable of healing. But, brethren, this just isn’t so!

Christ commissioned His disciples to heal. Two things are worthy of our note here. (1) Jesus doesn’t instruct us to wait for a rhema before we pray for the sick. He doesn’t instruct us to pray beforehand and see if it’s His will to heal a particular person. The commission is, if they’re sick, heal them: you don’t need to ask Me if it’s My will to heal them! And (2) the Christian ministry of healing is unlike that of the world’s. It isn’t medical healing. These seventy weren’t medically-trained professionals armed with scalpels and medicines in their satchels. They weren’t even supposed to bring along any bags or satchels, no money or food, much less medicines. CHRISTIAN HEALING IS THE LAYING ON OF HANDS, THE ANOINTING WITH OIL, AND THE PRAYER OF FAITH. James 5:14-15 reads, Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: {15} And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. There were doctors in Israel at this time. Luke himself was a doctor. But THE LORD DIDN'T SEND DOCTORS OUT TO HEAL. HE SENT BELIEVERS AND DISCIPLES, ARMED WITH NOTHING ELSE BUT OIL, PRAYER, AND FAITH. [952]

FNThe miracles and the message go together. The kingdom of God is a vast area of study that we can’t get into at this point. Briefly defined, the kingdom of God is God’s reign and rule in the hearts and lives of men. It presupposes a King or Lord who reigns and a body of precepts by which men’s lives are ordered or governed. Luke doesn’t elucidate everything that the seventy were to preach concerning the kingdom of God. It is assumed they taught the things that Christ taught them in private and public, both in Galilee and Judea. [953]

FNImpressions matter to the Lord. He’s concerned about the witness we give. Why? I believe it’s because THE WITNESS OF OUR PERSONAL LIFE AFFECTS PEOPLE'S WILLINGNESS TO HEAR OUR MESSAGE. The Teaching of the Twelve, circa 100 A.D., is believed to be the church’s first handbook or guide on Christian order. Among its guidelines: if a prophet stayed in one home for more than three days without working, or if he asked for money or food, he was regarded as a false prophet. Wm. Barclay, Daily Study Bible: The Gospel of Luke, Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1975, page 134. [954]

FNA Jew traveling through Gentile territory would shake the dust off his feet when he returned to Jewish soil. Why? Because Gentile dust was defiling and unclean. For Christians, the shaking off of dust was testimony to the fact that they those who rejected their message would bear responsibility for their judgment. [955]

FNAthetéo, meaning to cast off, hence, to reject. The verse is more accurately translated, he that rejects you rejects Me, and he that rejects Me rejects Him that sent Me. [956]

FNThe power of miracles to turn people to the Lord is also illustrated in the case of the man healed from congenital blindness. The miracle made him a believer in the Lord (John 9). It’s repeated in the raising of Lazarus. That miracle made a lot of believers (John 11:45, 12:9-11). Other examples are found in Acts 13:4-12 and 19:11-20. Jesus’ many miracles were not only intended to benefit the sick and oppressed, but they were done in order to demonstrate to people the Divine nature and mission of our Lord. The miracles were supposed to prove that God was working through Jesus, hence, Jesus was no ordinary man. He said in John 10:37-38, If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. {38} But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him (see also John 10:25 and 14:10-11). Believing in the genuineness or authenticity of the miracles, as opposed to believing they’re an optical illusion or works of the Devil, leads one to believe that God was in Jesus and was working through Him. Miracles, I’m saying, when believed, have the power to turn a person to the Lord.

Now the question is raised, if miracles have this power to turn people to the Lord, why didn’t the religious leaders believe in Him when they saw His many mighty works? They didn’t believe in Jesus because they didn’t believe His miracles were of the Lord. They believed Satan was doing these miracles through Jesus (Matthew 12:24, Luke 11:15).  In the end, miracles have the power to turn a person to the Lord and make a believer out of him—but only if that person believes the miracles are God’s doing, not the Devil’s. [957]

FNThe translation here is most unfortunate. Easy is not best word to describe everything that the Greek chrestos means. It means good, profitable, useful. So many people see Christ's yoke as being just that--a heavy yoke that burdens, traps, and ties a person down. Little do they know that Christ's yoke is actually good for you; it does you a world of good; it profits you. [957a]

FNHupotásso, to be subordinate to another, be under the obedience of another. A child is subject to his parents, a student to his teacher, a soldier to his commanding officer, and a conquered people to its conquering nation. To be subject is to be subdued by a greater power or authority and be put in a position where the subject has to obey the authority. [958]

FNSome people believe that the disciples were proud about their accomplishments. I believe the disciples’ joy was more about their surprise and not their pride. The fact that they recognized the devils coming out through thy name tells me that the disciples recognized the power was in Jesus’ Name, not theirs. Had the disciples been proud, I think they would have taken all the credit and said, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us![959]

FNEzekiel 28:11-15, 2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6. See also Revelation 12:7-9. [960]

FNA novice isn’t to be set in the office of pastor, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil, 1 Timothy 3:6. [961]

FNFigurative of Satan the serpent and his demonic hosts, Revelation 12:9, 20:2. [962]

FNFrom a translation of the Textus Receptus by Jay P. Green Sr, general editor and translator. [963]

FNOf course, people break the law and do things that they don’t have a right to do. But I hope you get the picture: you’re not supposed to do anything if you don’t have the right or permission to do it. [963a]

FNCompare Job 1:9-12 and 2:4-6 with 1 Corinthians 10:13 and Revelation 7:1-3, 9:1-4. [964]

FNThis is the only known instance on record where Jesus rejoiced. He wept over Lazarus (John 11:35) and He wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41). But only once are we told that Jesus rejoiced. [965]

FNEvidently Jesus was surrounded by people other than the twelve or the seventy and He waited until He was alone with the latter before He blest them with these closing words. [966]

FNA nomikós wasn’t an attorney in a court of law. Rather, he was someone who was conversant in the Law; he was someone who devoted himself to the study and knowledge of the Law. Closely related to a lawyer was a doctor or teacher of the Law, nomodidáskalos; and a writer or copyist of the law, grammateús. Altogether, the nomikós, nomodidáskalos, and grammateús were scribes by profession. A lawyer was a scribe.

Now scribes served different functions and it is probably for this reason that they are alternately known in Scripture as scribe, lawyer, or teacher. (1) Scribes were writers of Scripture. They were the only ones authorized to make handwritten copies of Sacred Scripture.

(2) They not only copied Scripture: they also studied it. Now alongside the written Scripture or Torah, there was handed down from one generation to another a body of laws known as the Oral Law. It was oral because it wasn’t written down like Torah, but was passed down by word of mouth. Scribes studied both the Written and Oral Law.

(3) They not only studied the Law, both Written and Oral, but they also interpreted and expounded it. The myriad of rabbinical law was largely their work. Rabbinical law was an attempt to apply the Law to every conceivable situation of life, it was the Jews’ practical application of Written and Oral Law to their daily lives.

(4) Because of their knowledge of the Law, scribes became teachers of the Law. They had a lot of students under their charge. Thus, whenever you read about the scribes’ opposition to Jesus the opposition was, in reality, much bigger than just the scribes because it included the many pupils who studied under them.

And (5) scribes served as judges in local Sanhedrins and in the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. Because of their eminent knowledge of the Law, the people and the court generally acquiesced to their judgment. In this way, scribes were a highly respected and powerful group of men. Without their complicity and support, religious opposition to Jesus would not have prevailed. [967]

FNTeacher and pupils would sit during scholastic or Torah instruction. When a pupil wanted to speak or ask a question, instead of raising his hand he would stand up. [968]

FNThis is the first of two instances in the Gospel narratives where someone asked Jesus what he had to do to inherit eternal life. The rich young ruler asked the same question, Matthew 19:16-22. A wise man is he who understands that there’s more to life than just this life, there’s life after death, and this life isn’t given automatically to everyone: it’s only given to those who meet the conditions for obtaining, or inheriting, it. Friends, to live this life without thought for the next is really the height of shortsighted stupidity. [969]

FNDeuteronomy 6:4-5 & 11:13. God wants us to love Him with everything we’ve got, no holds barred. [970]

FNLeviticus19:18. The commandment to love God and one’s neighbor is twice given as our Lord’s response to two different questions. Here, it was given as an answer to a question concerning eternal life and in Matthew 22:34-40 it was given as an answer concerning the greatest commandments in God’s sight. [971]

FNIt’s evident from Jesus’ response to the lawyer’s question that it’s possible for a person to be saved by keeping the Law: This do, and thou shalt live. He essentially said the same thing when the rich young ruler asked Him the same question: But if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments (Matthew 19:17). It’s interesting to note that in both these instances, these men asked what works they had to do in order to be saved; theirs was a salvation by works. Jesus’ response, then, to everyone who seeks to be saved by works is, Obey the Law and you’ll be saved.

The only problem is, no one can obey the Law in its entirety. Though a person may be sincere and zealous in obeying the Law, he is nevertheless under the curse of the Law if he fails in any way, in any instance, at any time, to keep the whole Law. Paul says in Galatians 3:10, For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. It’s for this reason of man’s inability to keep the entire Law during his entire lifetime that a salvation by works becomes an utter impossibility. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight (Romans 3:20). Because no one can flawlessly keep the Law, ergo, no one can be saved by works; Christ offers all those who seek to be saved a salvation by grace that’s obtained by believing in Him. Jesus said in John 3:14-15, And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: {15} That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life (see also Galatians 2:16). [972]

FNSome may quote Luke 14:26 as one instance where it’s permissible for a Christian to hate: If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. But to interpret Jesus’ words literally would contradict the fifth commandment to honor thy father and thy mother (Exodus 20:12). Therefore, it’s best to understand Jesus’ use of the word hate as meaning ‘to love less’. This understanding of the word is borne out in a similar passage in Matthew 10:37, He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. While God wants us to love parents or people in general, He nevertheless doesn’t want us to love them more than Him. [973]

FNM. Burrows, The Dead Sea Scrolls, New York, 1956, p. 257. [974]

FNSee also Exodus 22:21, Leviticus 19:34, 25:35, Deuteronomy 27:19, 31:12. [975]

FNWe don’t know for sure if this story of the good Samaritan was a parable that Jesus made up or a true story that actually happened. Because Jesus uses the story to make a point, many consider it to be a parable. [976]

FNJericho was about 16 or 17 miles northeast of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was about 2300 feet above sea level with the Mediterranean; Jericho, about 1300 feet below. So what we have, then, is the road from Jerusalem to Jericho drops about 3600 feet in the course of 16-17 miles. The road itself was steep and it went through narrow mountain passes. The very desolation of the desert area, coupled with the many caves or hollows in the mountains, made it an ideal area for thieves and brigands to flourish. In fact, for many centuries and on into the nineteenth century, the road between Jerusalem and Jericho was known as The bloody way. It was common for local Sheiks to charge all passers by a certain sum of money to assure their safety on the road. [977]

FNThis is the only recorded instance in the Gospel narratives where priests and Levites are set in a negative light by our Lord. Jericho was one of many cites where priests and Levites lived. According to one account, there was as many as 12,000 of them living in Jericho. The priest and the Levite in this story were probably returning home after having completed their duties in the Temple in Jerusalem. [978]

FNBecause traveling at night was rather dangerous, plus recognizing the need for a good night’s rest, there were many inns or kahns scattered throughout Palestine. Sometimes, these kahns had an actual innkeeper who provided food for tenants and animals. Some kahns had individual rooms, but most of them were simply one large room or open courtyard where everyone slept on the floor. About midway between Jerusalem and Jericho today is the kahn which is traditionally believed to have been the inn where the Samaritan took the injured traveler. [979]

FNTwo Roman denarii, equivalent to two days’ wages. [980]

FNJohn 11:1 tells us that Mary and Martha lived in the town of Bethany. Bethany lies on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives, about 1½ - 2 miles southeast of Jerusalem and situated along the road that leads from Jerusalem to Jericho. It was here in Bethany where Lazarus was raised from the dead (John 11) and where Jesus’ feet were anointed in the house of Simon the leper (John 12:1-8). Jesus visited this town no less than five times. Today, the town is known as el-Aziriyeh, meaning the place of Lazarus. [981]

FNMartha, Mary, and Lazarus were brothers and sisters. The fact that their parents are never once mentioned in Scripture leads scholars to believe that they were dead at this time. Since Martha is always mentioned before her sister, with a single exception, and since she was the hostess for this dinner, some people believe that Martha was older than Mary. We don’t know if this was Jesus’ first encounter with Martha, or if He had previously met her somewhere in Judea or Galilee. Eventually, she, her sister, and brother became good friends and devout followers of Jesus. [982]

FNThe verb perispáo means to be distracted and overly busy. [983]

FNPrior to Jesus’ coming, Mary helped her sister in the kitchen. But when Jesus came and started to teach she left her sister and listened intently to the things Jesus was teaching. For Mary, getting the Word from Jesus was more important than making final dinner preparations. [984]

FNOr anxious. [985]

FNWe know for sure that on at least three separate occasions, Jesus sent His disciples ahead of Himself to make the necessary preparations for His arrival, Luke 9:51-52, 10:1, and 22:7-12. On this particular trip to Bethany we believe the twelve apostles were with our Lord since this incident in Martha’s home is followed by Jesus teaching His disciples to pray, Luke 11:1. Even if we were to assume that no one else traveled to Bethany with the apostolic company, Martha would need to cook for a minimum of thirteen men, not including Lazarus who isn’t mentioned at all in the text. With such a large group involved, it’s possible that Jesus sent advance word to Martha to let her know how large a company to expect. If such was really the case, dinner preparations would have been long underway so that by the time Jesus and His company arrived, most of the cooking should have already been done. Even so, it’s understandable and in no way unreasonable that Martha would still need help in preparing to serve thirteen men. The company was much too large for one woman to serve alone! [986]

FNFrom all outward appearances, Martha had a case. In households which didn’t have maids or servants the women would do the serving. In this instance with a large crowd, Martha needed Mary to help her serve. Have you ever gone to Jesus thinking you’ve got a good case and Jesus will therefore take your side? In Jesus’ gentle reproof we see that OUR CASE ISN'T ALWAYS AS GOOD AS WE THINK IT IS. We may expect Jesus to take our side in a grievance, complaint, or dispute. But He doesn’t always do it because He knows we aren’t always right, not even when we’ve got a good case! Martha had a good case! She was doing her job, Mary wasn’t, and she needed Mary to help. But Martha wasn’t right! Feeding the Lord was more important to her than the Lord feeding her. Brethren, WHEN YOU LOSE SIGHT OF SPIRITUAL VALUES AND PRIORITIES, DON'T EXPECT JESUS TO TAKE YOUR SIDE AND TELL OTHER PEOPLE, IN ESSENCE, TO BECOME CUMBERED AND DISTRACTED LIKE YOU. He won’t. Friends, IT'S WRONG FOR YOU TO TAKE PEOPLE AWAY FROM OUR LORD. WHETHER THEY'RE IN PRAYER, WORSHIP, CHURCH, OR STUDY, LEAVE THEM AT JESUS' FEET, DIE OUT, AND DO THE WORK BY YOURSELF UNTIL THEY CAN JOIN YOU IN THE KITCHEN. [987]

FNAt least two of our Lord’s apostles were first disciples of John the Baptist and it’s possible that one of them asked Jesus to teach them a lesson in prayer. These two disciples were Andrew and John (John 1:40). The Lord taught His disciples this model prayer at least twice, so far as it’s recorded in Scripture. The first was in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:9-15. This took place in Galilee and Jesus was not only surrounded by His disciples, but by a whole multitude of people as well. The second time our Lord taught this prayer was on this particular occasion in Judea, as cited in our present Scripture text, Luke 11:1-3. There is no compelling reason why an apostle of our Lord couldn’t have asked the Lord to teach them once again what He had already taught them previously in Galilee. Personally speaking, I deem this highly unlikely. It’s a lot more probable that the disciple who asked this favor of the Lord was one of the many non-apostolic disciples who followed the Lord, perhaps one of the seventy. [988]

FNThis prayer is essentially the same as the one recorded in Matthew, with the only exception being that Luke omits, For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. Because the Gospel writers didn’t record everything Jesus said and did (John 21:25), it’s possible that Jesus uttered these words in Judea as well, but chose not to have them incorporated in Luke’s Gospel narrative. [989]

FNThe Jews prayed three times a day, everyday of the week including Sabbath and Holy Days: in the  morning, afternoon, and evening. The Shema, that being Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 11:13-21, and Numbers 15:37-41, was recited twice in the morning service and once in the evening. Shema was followed by the Shemoneh Esreh, or Eighteen Benedictions. This was the chief prayer of the Jews and it was recited in all three prayer services. {Click here to read these synagogue prayers.} There were other prayers as well, as delineated by R. Joseph Telushkin in Jewish Literacy, New York: Wm. Morrow & Company, 1991, pp. 664-666.

While Jews were allowed to pray by themselves, Judaism encouraged the Jews to pray together or communally in the synagogue. The reason for this was the rabbis felt  that private prayer often led a person to be concerned only about his own individual needs, while corporate prayer fostered concern for the entire Jewish community or nation. In order to pray communally, there had to be at least ten adult males present. [990]

FNIf you love the sin too much and don’t want to give it up, hence, you want to sin; the Devil will certainly accommodate you and tempt you. [991]

FNAnaídeia means to unashamedly ask and ask and keep on asking; persistence in asking without feeling shame or inconsideration. [992]

FNRabbi Telushkin, citing the Talmud, tells how many rabbis attributed the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. to hatred and inhospitality. A certain man had a friend named Kamtza and an enemy named Bar Kamtza. The man held a large banquet one day and instructed his servant to invite his friend Kamtza, but the servant erred and invited his enemy instead. When the man saw Bar Kamtza at the table he was incensed and demanded that his enemy leave. Bar Kamtza protested and offered to pay for the cost of the food that he ate, then he offered to pay for half of the cost of the entire banquet, and finally, he offered to pay for the entire banquet. But in each instance, the host insisted that Bar Kamtza leave. Incensed and humiliated, Bar Kamtza sought revenge, not only against the man, but against the city of Jerusalem since many rabbis were at the banquet and none of them stood up on his behalf. Bar Kamtza went to the Emperor and convinced him that the Jews were plotting against him. Shortly thereafter, the Emperor sent Titus against Jerusalem and the rest is tragic history. The destruction of the Temple, the rabbis believed, is said to have been caused by the hatred and inhospitality of one man (Gittin 55b-56a). For this reason, Jews down through the ages are taught not to be inhospitable, but always gracious and kind. From Jewish Literacy, p. 534. [993]

FNMake no mistake. The love of money is the root of all evil. But it’s not evil or wrong to have money, not even lots of money. It’s not the possession of money that’s evil: it’s the love of money. Brethren, IT'S POSSIBLE TO HAVE MONEY, WEALTH, AND POSSESSIONS WITHOUT BEING GREEDY, COVETOUS, OR SINFUL. IT'S POSSIBLE TO BE PROSPEROUS, WEALTHY, OR WELL-OFF AND STILL BE RIGHTEOUS. [994]

FNSome people and commentators believe this incident is the same one recorded in Matthew 12:22-24 and Mark 3:20-30, and this for the following reasons. (1) Both incidents involve the deliverance and healing of a dumb demoniac. (2) Both are followed by a demonification of Jesus and a blasphemous accusation against Him. (3) Jesus responds to the charge in both incidents in a similar way—Satan would be dividing his kingdom if he engaged himself in deliverance. (4) Both incidents are followed by a request for a sign.

Though similar in these respects, there is ample reason to maintain both incidents as being separate and distinct from the other. (1) Luke places this deliverance in the context of Jesus’ ministry in Judea, whereas the one in Matthew and Mark transpires during Jesus’ Galilean ministry. (2) According to Matthew, the demoniac was both blind and dumb, while Luke identifies him as being dumb only. With Luke’s medical background, it is inconceivable that he would neglect to mention the demoniac’s blindness if indeed this was the same demoniac as the one delivered in Matthew. (3) The demoniac’s deliverance in Matthew and Mark was followed by Jesus’ seaside teaching in parables (Matthew 13:1-3), while the deliverance in Luke was followed by Jesus’ dining in the home of a Pharisee (Luke 11:37-54). (4) It should be kept in mind that there were demoniacs all over Palestine, many of whom were physically infirmed. Just because the Gospel writers record a deliverance of a dumb demoniac doesn’t necessarily mean their accounts are one and the same incident. It’s possible for more than one dumb demoniac to have been delivered by Jesus. In fact, the Gospel writers record four specific incidents of dumb demoniacs being delivered by our Lord: Matthew 9:32-34, 12:22-24, Mark 9:14-27, and Luke 11:14. (5) The same thing should be kept in mind with respect to Jesus’ sermons. Jesus didn’t preach His sermons just once. He repeated them on different occasions with different audiences. The similarity of Jesus’ response to the people’s blasphemous accusation in Matthew and Luke is ample evidence of this fact. [995]

FNThis person’s inability to speak was a physical condition or impairment and it was caused by a spiritual oppression whereby a mute spirit kept this person’s vocal chord from working. It’s evidence to us that some physical conditions are more than just physical: there’s a spiritual dimension to them; the physical condition is the result of a spiritual, demonic oppression.  In such instances, medical science cannot effect a cure through medical, or physical, means because they have no impact or effect on demons: healing can only be effected through deliverance. [996]

FNThaumázo means to marvel, wonder, or hold in admiration. The word is translated many times as marvel or marveled, this being the people’s response when they saw Jesus’ mighty works. [997]

FNAccording to 2 Kings 1:2, Baalzebub was the god of Ekron. The name literally means, ‘lord of flies’. By New Testament times, for reasons that are as yet unknown, the name underwent a change in spelling and was henceforth spelled Beelzebub. From Jesus’ words in Luke 11:18, it’s clear that the Jews saw Beelzebub as being Satan himself.

This blasphemous accusation against Jesus was made at least three times during our Lord’s ministry: (1) first in Matthew 9:32-34, (2) then in Matthew 12:22-24 (parallel account in Mark 3:22-30), (3) and finally in this account in Luke 11:14. In addition, John notes three times when Jesus was accused of having a devil, John 7:20, 8:48-52, and 10:20. [998]

FNPlease refer to our commentary on Matthew 12:24-37 for an extensive discussion of the unpardonable sin, inasmuch as we cannot repeat that commentary here. {Click here to review that discussion now.} The crucial thing that’s worth repeating here is this. It’s one thing to say a person’s got demons and quite another thing to say a demon is working or speaking through him. Brethren, IT'S NOT BLASPHEMOUS OR UNPARDONABLE TO SAY A PERSON'S OPPRESSED. THE BLASPHEMY COMES IN WHEN YOU ACCUSE A TRUE SERVANT OF GOD OF MINISTERING BY THE POWER OF A DEMON. By ministering I mean he’s working miracles, or manifesting a gift of the Spirit, or preaching/teaching the Word. In the aforesaid commentary we not only define what the unpardonable sin is, but we also give advice on how not to commit that sin and what you can do if you believe you’ve committed that sin.

What I would like to do here, however, is address the ready tendency of so many of God’s people today to demonify those they don’t like or agree with. The people here in our text, you see, didn’t like or agree with Jesus and, as a result, they blasphemed the Holy Spirit. Brethren, there are all kinds of people out there who we don’t like or agree with. And by people I mean people who profess to be Christians. Some are deceivers, others are deceived, and still others are just plain ignorant of the truth. Others just don’t see some things the way we see them; they interpret or understand the Scriptures differently than we. They’re governed by different convictions than ours. Some know and believe the truth, but they’re living in sin or aren’t doing something right. Some live uprightly for the most part, but being imperfect as they are, they’ve aroused our ire by sinning against us. So what do we do with these people? Too often, like the unbelieving Jews of Jesus’ day, we’ve demonified them and accused them of being demon possessed or oppressed. We can name the spirits: they’ve got a deceiving spirit, a lying spirit, a controlling spirit, a Jezebel spirit, a legalistic spirit, a compromising spirit, a worldly spirit, a rebellious spirit, a critical spirit, a spirit of fear, a spirit of unbelief, a spirit of lust, and many, many more that could be named. Doubtless, in some instances, genuine oppression is involved and I do not deny that. But, brethren, could it be that not everyone whom we’ve demonified is really a demoniac? Could it be we’re wrong? Might we have unjustly and falsely accused people of being oppressed when, in reality, they weren’t? The unbelieving Jews of Jesus’ day really believed He was possessed. But they were wrong! Imagine this, they were accusing Jesus of being a servant of Beelzebub when, in reality, He was the Son of God! They were demonifying the very Son of God! Brethren, how wrong could they be? And I’m asking ourselves, could it be we’re wrong in accusing people of having this demonic spirit or that?

How do you know a person’s oppressed? One way is through the discerning of spirits and another is through the word of knowledge. Sometimes you know it by a witness in your spirit whereby you just know a person’s oppressed. Sometimes you can tell a person’s oppressed when the demon manifests and you notice a change in the person’s countenance, behavior, speech, or intonation. And another way you can tell is through the fruit of their lives. But SAYING A PERSON'S OPPRESSED DOESN'T NECESSARILY MAKE HIM OR HER OPPRESSED. BRETHREN, IT TAKES MORE THAN JUST YOUR ACCUSATION TO MAKE A PERSON OPPRESSED. MAKING THE ACCUSATION DOESN'T PROVE A PERSON'S REALLY OPPRESSED.

Let’s say we don’t have the gift of discerning of spirits and God hasn’t given us a word of knowledge, that is, He hasn’t shown us that someone’s oppressed. Let’s also say that the demon isn’t manifesting. Furthermore, we have a suspicion or hunch that the person’s oppressed, we’d like for him to be oppressed, but in all honesty, we can’t say that we have an inward witness in our spirit that that’s really the case. The only thing left for us to decide if a person’s really oppressed or not is the fruit of his life. Now how many times does a person have to commit a certain sin, or do a certain thing, before he opens the door to oppression and become oppressed? If a brother lied to us once, does that one lie make him oppressed? If he lied twice in the last two years, does that make him oppressed? If he lied three times in all the years we’ve known him, does that make him oppressed? Do you see what I mean? How many times does a person have to do something before they become oppressed? Once? Twice? Three times? I don’t know and I’m not sure anyone can generalize and say “Anyone who’s lied three times has a lying spirit.” Peter denied the Lord three times: did he have a lying, denying spirit? How many times have you lied or disobeyed the Lord since you got saved? Does this mean you have a lying, disobedient spirit? Do you see what I mean? How do we decide when a person’s genuinely and truly oppressed? And are we willing to be judged by the same standards with which we judge others? Brethren, how is it that you say a brother who’s lied twice in the last year has a lying spirit while you  yourself who’ve also lied twice in the last year don’t have that same lying spirit? Like the Jews, what makes their deliverance a power from God while Jesus’ deliverance was from Satan? Where’s the consistency?

What I’m trying to get at is, brethren, WE'VE GOT TO HAVE THE FACTS RIGHT BEFORE WE GO AROUND DEMONIFYING PEOPLE. Yes, there are demoniacs in this world, people do get oppressed, and yes, there are some oppressed people in the world and in the church. But, brethren, just because we accuse someone of being oppressed doesn’t necessarily mean they’re really oppressed. It’s possible for us to make wrong or false accusations and this is something God doesn’t want us to do. The thing of it is, like Jesus’ critics, we think we’re right in demonifying others when, in reality, we’re not right, we’re wrong; those whom we’ve called oppressed aren’t really oppressed. Brethren, DON'T DEMONIFY PEOPLE UNLESS YOU KNOW FOR SURE THEY'RE REALLY OPPRESSED. Remember, you’re going to have to defend your accusation before the throne of God. You’re going to answer to God for the accusations you make. IF YOU CAN'T PROVE AND DEFEND YOUR ACCUSATION BEFORE THE THRONE, THEN DON'T MAKE YOUR ACCUSATION ON THIS SIDE OF THE THRONE. BRETHREN, DON'T BE SO QUICK, THOUGHTLESS, AND RASH IN DEMONIFYING PEOPLE! One of the best ways I know how not to commit the unpardonable sin is to THINK THRICE BEFORE YOU DEMONIFY SOMEONE. It just could be your rash demonification of the brethren will be blasphemous and unpardonable. Brethren, it’s just not worth it!

Now there are times when we must stand up and categorically declare that a person’s oppressed with this spirit or that. We declare it in order to help them. Obviously, a person won’t seek deliverance if he doesn’t know he’s oppressed. And we declare it to warn others not to be similarly oppressed by the same spirit. There are times, I’m saying, when it becometh righteousness to declare the true, demonic condition of an oppressed individual.

But WHEN PEOPLE DEMONIFY OTHERS FOR LESS THAN HONORABLE OR RIGHTEOUS REASONS AND PURPOSES, IT'S INDICATIVE OF ROTTENNESS IN THE HEART. Look at the unbelieving Jews of Jesus’ day. Why did they demonify Him? There were all kinds of specific reasons, of course, reasons like: He violated the Sabbath, He ate with sinners and publicans, He didn’t observe their rabbinical traditions, He claimed to be able to forgive sins, He claimed He was God, and many, many more! But to summarize things up, these critics of our Lord demonified Him in order to make Him look bad. They were out to discredit Him so that people wouldn’t follow Him anymore. In some way, demonifying Jesus was also their way of making themselves look good or right after all. The motives and condition of their heart, you see, were neither righteous nor honorable. Brethren, what does our heart look like? Have we demonified people because we envied their popularity and success? Did we made them look bad because it was the only way we could make ourselves look good? Have we concealed our flaws by drawing people’s attention to the flaws of others? Did we concoct false accusations against them because it was our way of getting back at them for what they did to us? Brethren, this is not the Spirit of Christ!

How do we want people to treat us? Do we want them to demonify us and say all kinds of bad things about us that aren’t true? You say that they’re already saying these things about us and they’ll continue to say it because it’s a part of the persecution that Christ promised us. Yes, but, brethren, do the false accusations and maltreatments of others justify us doing the same to them? Did Christ say to do unto them what they’ve done unto us? Did He say it was alright to return evil for evil? Brethren, you know what Christ said. He said to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21), to bless them that curse you (Matthew 5:44), and to do unto others what you would have them do unto you (Matthew 7:12). Brethren, it’s time for us to grow up! Let’s lay down our guns, stop the war, and keep our lying, mischievous, divisive, alienating tongues shut! The Body of Christ has suffered enough from the hatred, lies, and unforgiveness of its members. Let’s model the example of Christ, die out, and bless. Let’s learn the blessedness of Psalm 133:1, Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! May God bless us to this end and grant unto us reconciliation in the church. [999]

FNFor them to conclude otherwise and admit, howbeit grudgingly and hesitantly, that Jesus’ power came from God would put them in the difficult position of explaining why they didn’t believe in Him. Additionally, it should be noted that not everyone, including those among the Pharisees and Scribes, believed that Jesus was demon-possessed. Nicodemus was representative of these who saw Jesus’ mighty power at work and had to conclude, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him (John 3:2). [1000]

FNThe casting out of demons did not originate with Jesus. According to Josephus, King Solomon was skilled in exorcism. The King was said to have written down a list of incantations that he used in casting out demons. These incantations were passed down and used throughout succeeding generations, both before, during, and after the time of Christ (Antiquities of the Jews, VIII.2.5). The disciples of the Pharisees were known to cast out demons (Matthew 12:27), as well as the seven sons of Sceva, a chief priest (Acts 19:13-14). [1001]

FNBecause God is Spirit without form, He doesn’t have literal fingers like human beings. The finger of God is used anthropomorphically throughout Scriptures to speak of His power and works. See Exodus 8:19, 31:18, Daniel 5:5. [1002]

FNThe verb literally means to watch or guard. In the natural realm, the security of one’s goods  depends on (1) one’s strength, (2) his arms or weapons, and (3) his vigilance. [1003]

FNThe words of the Lord here are reminiscent of the separation, alienation, and enmity of Israel’s two greatest prophets heretofore: Moses, who, in Exodus 32:26, asked his idolatrous countrymen, Who is on the Lord’s side? And Elijah (1 Kings 18:21 NIV), who on Mount Carmel asked, How long will you waver two opinions? [1004]

FNIn Matthew 12:43-45 Jesus teaches on the post-exorcism activity of an unclean spirit and He closes His instruction with these words: Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation. In view of these words, Luke 11:24-26 is understood by many commentators and scholars to be a parable that depicts the then-present spiritual state of Israel as being seven times worse off because of her rejection of Jesus. I don’t believe these verses are parabolic. I believe they are a literal description of what happens after a demon has been cast out of an oppressed individual. The fact that a person is seven times worse off than before only reflects the truth and reality of what has happened to him or her in the demonic realm. [1005]

FNWaterless places, referring to those geographical areas which are dry, barren, and desolate or uninhabited. Palestine was filled with such places:  in the south were the Wilderness of Shur, the Wilderness of Paran, the Wilderness of Sinai, the Wilderness of Sin, and the Wilderness of Edom; to the east was the wilderness of Moab; to the north was the wilderness of Damascus; and in central Palestine was the Wilderness of Judea. Does this mean there are demons in the deserts? I believe so. Compare the judgment of Babylon in Isaiah 13:19-22 with her judgment in Revelation 18:2. [1006]

FNKosméo means to put in proper order, to prepare and be ready (Matthew 25:7, translated trimmed). In some instances, the preparation involved is one of decorating or adorning (KJV garnished or adorned). [1007]

FNThe demons presently on Earth are not all the demons there are. There are vastly more demons in existence, but they’re confined in chains in the abyss and will one day be loosed on the Earth, Jude 6 with Revelation 9:1-11. As a matter of opinion and not of authority, the fact that these demons are in chains only tells me how terribly wicked they must be—after all, chains are used only for the worst of the worst. Friends, if you think the demons we’ve got around here are bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet! [1008]

FNWe know that it’s not any harder for God to heal cancer than it is for Him to heal a cough: the severity of the sickness doesn’t weaken God’s ability to heal it. The same thing, brethren, applies in oppression. It isn’t any harder for God to get rid of seven demons than it is for Him to get rid of one. Seven times more demons doesn’t require seven times more work, power, or time. [1009]

FNSo does this mean you shouldn’t be concerned about opening the door to oppression and getting seven times more oppressed? Of course not! You should be concerned! When you give yourself to spirits of wickedness, let’s say fornication, drunkenness, and murder, and you become seven times more wicked than before, seven times more entrenched in sin than before, you’re basically building your hut in Hell. Children of disobedience and wickedness, my friends, go to Hell. And you can’t blame the Devil for making you disobedient and wicked—even though you were oppressed—because you knowingly and willfully gave yourself to him. YOU HAVE NO GUARANTEE THAT YOU'LL WANT TO REPENT AND BE DELIVERED ONCE YOU'RE OPPRESSED BY EIGHTFOLD DEMONS OF WICKEDNESS. YOU HAVE NO GUARANTEE THAT CHRIST WILL POUR OUT HIS GIFT OF REPENTANCE UPON YOU. None of us do. So take it seriously, brethren, and don’t open the door to oppression once again! [1010]

FNA woman out of the crowd. [1011]

FNThe blessedness is in hearing and obeying the Word. WITHOUT OBEDIENCE, HEARING THE WORD OR KNOWING IT DOES YOU MORE HARM THAN GOOD. Luke 12:47 reads, And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. Jesus said in Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. James 4:17 goes on to say, Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. WILLFUL NEGLECT IS SIN AND A LIFE OF DISOBEDIENCE IS DAMNABLE. [1012]

FNTo accumulate, thus indicating that the crowd of people around Jesus was growing big. The people at the fringes began to press in upon Him to see what else, or what more, He would do. In view of Jesus’ words immediately following, they were clamoring to see Him perform more miracles or signs. [1013]

FNIn what way was that generation of people evil? Evil in not believing the Lord in spite of all the things He said and did, in spite of all the prophecies that He fulfilled. The point of Jesus’ statement here is that it’s characteristic of people who are evil to seek signs. Let me, however, hasten to say that seeking a sign from God doesn’t necessarily make you evil. See footnote 1016 below. [1014]

FNSemeíon, uniformly translated throughout the New Testament as sign, miracle, or wonder. The word literally means a mark or token by which a thing is known. For example, when the leaves of a tree begin to turn color and fall off it’s a sure sign of autumn. A red evening sky is indicative of fair weather (Matthew 16:2-3). The proliferation of deceivers, antichrists, wars, and persecution, are a sign of Jesus’ imminent return (Luke 21). A sign could be something natural, as in the examples we just cited for you. But more often than not, semeíon is something supernatural, like a miracle. For example, many of the miracles Jesus did are said to be signs (John 20:30). In other contexts, however, the word is used in the sense of a miracle or sign that’s meant to serve as proof or convincing evidence, thus dispelling doubt or uncertainty. It’s in this latter sense in which the word is used. Some people wanted Jesus to perform a sign that would prove to them, beyond all shadow of a doubt, that Jesus really was a Man of God and not an agent of Beelzebub. [1015]

FNConsidering the fact that Jesus had just got done casting a demon out of someone who was mute, thus enabling the mute to speak, it was apparent that this double miracle wasn’t enough of a sign to convince them, or prove to them, that Jesus really was a Man of God or Prophet. The deliverance or healing wasn’t enough! They wanted Jesus to do something extraordinary. What exactly did these sign-seeking people have in mind? They wanted a sign from heaven, something that had to do with the heavenly bodies (Luke 11:16). Perhaps they wanted Jesus to make the sun stand still, like Joshua did (Joshua 10:12-14), or make the sun go backwards, as in the day of Isaiah (2 Kings 20:8-11). Maybe they wanted the Lord to make a solar eclipse or other such celestial phenomenon that would prove to them in an absolutely convincing manner that Jesus’ power really did come from God. These sign-seeking people were typical of their Jewish countrymen who conditioned their faith on miracles. Unless they saw a miracle they wouldn’t believe. Jesus said of them in John 4:48, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe. These sign-seeking skeptics are still with us today, they’re in the church, and they’re the ones who will believe on God only on their own terms: “Lord, I’ll believe if you do this first or if you first make this happen.”

Jesus, however, didn’t give these people the sign they wanted. Why not? If these people needed, or wanted, a sign in order to believe in Jesus why didn’t Jesus accommodate them and give them the sign? If He wanted these people to believe, as surely we know that it’s His will for people to believe, then why didn’t He help them believe by giving them the sign they wanted? The answer is perhaps best understood by addressing another question.

Is it wrong to ask God for a sign? As we read through the Scriptures we see how God dealt with both believers and non-believers in the matter of signs. (1) First, we see that God will, at times, sovereignly and unasked, give a sign to help His doubting people believe Him. Moses is a good example. God gave him a commission to go to Egypt and demand the release of the captive Israelites. Moses was unsure because he didn’t think the Israelites would listen to him. So what did God do? Without Moses asking for a sign, God gave him two signs: the sign of his staff turning into a serpent and the sign of his leprous hand (Exodus 4:1-8).

(2) Second, it’s one thing to ask in faith for a miracle or sign because you really need it. For example, the father of the lunatic child asked Jesus for miraculous deliverance—not because he wanted to see a show or performance, but because he needed it for his son (Mark 9:17-22). The father’s request grew out of a need, not out of a desire to be entertained. And besides that, he was believing. It’s one thing to ask for a miracle or sign because you really need it, and it’s quite another thing to ask for a sign because you believe the sign will help you believe.

(3) When God’s people want to believe, but need help overcoming their doubts, God helps them overcome their doubts and He helps them believe. Friends, it’s God’s will for His people to believe. And when they need help to believe, it’s within the heart of our God to help them. In the words of the lunatic’s father, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief (Mark 9:24). So how does the Lord help them believe? (A) Sometimes He helps them believe by working a sign that they ask for. Gideon is one such example. He wanted to know for sure that God was going to use him to deliver the Israelites out of the hand of the Midianites. He set his fleece two times before the Lord and asked Him to do a miracle: first, let the fleece be wet while the ground dry, and the next day, let the fleece be dry and the ground wet (Judges 6:36-40). Did the Lord give him the sign he sought? Yes. But Gideon was doubting. Why did God give a sign to someone who was doubting? I suspect He did it because He wanted to help Gideon overcome his doubts and believe.  (B) At other times, the Lord helps His people believe by simply speaking a Word to them. Joseph had doubts about Mary his espoused and intended to divorce her for what he believed was adultery and marital infidelity. So what did the Lord do? He sent His angel to Joseph and spoke a word to him. As a result, Joseph believed and abandoned his plans to divorce his wife (Matthew 1:18-25). Do you see what I mean? When the people of God want to believe Him and do the right thing or do God’s will, but have problems overcoming their doubts, it’s within the Lord’s will and heart to help them believe—either by performing a sign, or else, speaking just the right Word that will help them believe. Let me, however, caution you and say that if you insist on not believing God unless He first gives you a sign, this attitude of your heart doesn’t indicate a willingness or openness to believe: it’s a sign of willful unbelief or disbelief. In that case, don’t expect God to give you a sign.

(4) If, like these unbelieving Jews, you’re intent on not believing the Lord, then God won’t give you a sign—at least, not the sign you ask for or want. An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it (Matthew 12:39). You see, brethren, the problem with sign-conditioned or sign-dependent faith  (that is, a faith that will not believe unless one first sees a miracle or sign) is this. If you’ve already got your mind made up that you’re not going to believe no matter what, then you won’t believe even if you saw a miracle or sign. Look at the people in our text. They just got done seeing a dumb demoniac delivered and speak and they still didn’t believe on Jesus! On a related note, Jesus said if you refuse to believe the written Word, then you won’t believe it even if you saw a miracle (Luke 16:29-31). You think you would believe, but, in point of fact and truth, Jesus said you won’t. And this may well be the reason why God won’t give you a sign. He won’t give it to you because He knows you wouldn’t believe it anyway. If you don’t believe the Word, you won’t believe the sign. If you won’t believe the Word without a sign, neither would you believe it with a sign. Friends, if you’re intent on not believing, then you won’t believe no matter what sign or miracle you see.

(5) God wants His people to mature in their walk to a point where their faith isn’t conditioned or based on a sign, but on the Word. It’s the Scriptures, not the signs, that gives rise to faith (Romans 10:17), and the greatness of one’s faith lies in a person being content for Jesus to speak a Word (Matthew 8:5-10). Brethren, labor to believe the Word. Don’t base or condition your faith on signs. If you’re weak in faith and need some help overcoming your doubts, God will help you overcome them as we’ve already seen above. But for you to nurture this habit of not believing without a sign, or not believing unless God first gives you a sign, is an opened door to an evil heart of unbelief and God won’t give you a sign. Friends, THE LACK OF A SIGN ISN'T WHAT'S KEEPING YOU FROM BELIEVING: IT'S DOUBT AND UNBELIEF! GET RID OF THE DOUBT AND YOU'LL BE ABLE TO BELIEVE--EVEN WITHOUT A SIGN! [1016]

FNThis goes back to what I said earlier, that if you won’t believe the Word without a sign, you still wouldn’t believe it even with a sign. Why? Because you’d doubt or reject the sign. You’ll look at the miracle and deny that it was really a miracle—it was just luck, happenstance, or something totally natural, not supernatural. Remember the sign Jesus gave the Jews? It was the sign of His death and resurrection. When the sign came to pass did the religious leaders believe Jesus? Did they believe the sign? No way. They explained the sign away and spread the lie that Jesus’ disciples came and stole Jesus’ body out of the tomb (Matthew 28:11-15). You see, God gave them a sign, the sign came to pass, but they still didn’t believe it! Friends, IF YOUR HEART IS SET OR BENT ON NOT BELIEVING, YOU WON'T BELIEVE NO MATTER WHAT SIGN GOD MAY GIVE YOU. [1017]

FNLiterally, a lamp of the oil-burning variety. Likewise, a lampstand in place of the KJV candlestick. There were no wax-burning candles in Israel. For centuries before Christ  was born, people used candles made with solidified animal fat, but these ancient candles were not used in Israel. [1018]

FNThe word haploús is used only twice in the New Testament and they were both used by our Lord in referring to the eye (Matthew 6:22 and Luke 11:34). The word literally means single. Used figuratively, the word means clear, healthy, or sound. [1019]

FNJesus tells us one reason why people refuse to see, or come to, the light. He said in John 3:19-20, And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. {20} For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. IF SOMEONE REFUSES TO ACCEPT OR BELIEVE THE LIGHT, IT MAY WELL BE A GOOD INDICATION THAT THEY'RE TRYING TO HIDE THE EVIL THAT'S IN THEIR LIFE. [1020]

FNLuke is the only Gospel writer who records Jesus’ dining in the home of a Pharisee. Jesus did so on at least three occasions: Luke 7:36, 11:37, and 14:1. In this particular instance, the Pharisee’s motive in inviting Jesus for a meal is not specifically stated. Some think he sincerely  wanted to learn more about Jesus and His teachings. Others, however, think it was a setup to find more things wrong with Him. Considering that a Pharisee would avoid having any kind of social interaction with anyone who wasn’t a Pharisee, it’s doubtful that any of the Lord’s disciples were invited to this meal. There were, however, other Scribes and Pharisees present as indicated in verses 44, 45, and 53. The denunciations that follow are similar to the ones Jesus leveled against the Pharisees and Scribes in Jerusalem during Passion week, Matthew 23. [1021]

FNAristáo meaning to eat the first meal, hence breakfast. This meal would be eaten after morning prayer in the synagogue which commenced at the third hour (9 A.M.) and lasted anywhere from thirty to fifty minutes. Aristón is also used to denote the midday meal, or lunch. The word is uniformly translated throughout the New Testament as dinner. [1022]

FNLiterally, reclined. Jews didn’t sit on chairs around the table, but rather, reclined on cushions set on the floor. [1023]

FNWe wash our hands before eating for sanitary considerations. But the washing here alluded to was the ceremonial washing of hands that was customary among all pious Jews. Now the Jews had in their house special vessels where the ceremonial water was stored. Ordinary water wasn’t used in ceremonial washings. (When Jesus turned the water into wine, the water that He used was this ceremonial water of purification, John 2:6).

There was a certain procedure involved in the washing. A certain amount of water (at the very least a quarter log, or enough water to fill an eggshell and a half) was poured on the fingertips and allowed to run down to the wrist; the fist of one hand would be rubbed against the palm of the hand, then repeated for the other hand; finally, water would again be poured, this time at the wrist and running down to the fingertips. The hands would then be dried with a towel provided for this purpose. The hands were washed before the meal, during the meal between each course, and after the meal. A pitcher and basin or bowl would be set apart for use in this ceremonial washing. An attendant bearing the pitcher, basin, and towel would go from guest to guest until all hands were washed. When Jesus declined, or neglected, to wash, it certainly caused a stir or scene, especially in the house of a Pharisee. From the standpoint of rabbinical law, Jesus would be defiled, hence, under ordinary circumstances, any Pharisee would have refused to dine with Him. [1024]

FNRobbery, extortion, or pillage. [1025]

FNÁphon, meaning someone who’s mindless, ignorant, stupid, or unwise. The fool that Jesus warns us not to use in Matthew 5:22 is morós, from which the word ‘moron’ is derived. [1026]

FNJay P. Green Sr. translates the Received Text this way: But give alms of the things which are within, and behold, all things are clean to you. The Pharisees were so concerned about being ritually clean—that’s why they took pains to wash their hands before every meal. But cleanness is not in washing one’s hands, but in offering to people the things that are within—one’s love, kindness, patience, understanding, and the such like. [1027]

FNThe Mosaic tithe was one tenth of one’s flocks and produce (grain, oil, and wine), Leviticus 27:30-33, Deuteronomy 14:22-29. The Israelites didn’t plant KJV corn. They planted wheat, barley, and a few other grains. As usual, the Pharisees went beyond the letter of the Law and tithed even the herbs of their gardens. [1028]

FNFiguratively, to neglect or ignore. [1029]

FNSeats in the KJV is singular in the Greek text. The seat referred to here was located at the front of the synagogue and faced toward the congregation. In some synagogues, the seat was a semicircular bench near the ark where the scrolls were stored. [1030]

FNIt was customary and respectful for the people to greet or acknowledge a rabbi in the streets or marketplace. The greeting was more than just a simple “Hello.” They would shower him with all kinds of compliments and praises. [1031]

FNMosaic Law stipulated that anyone who touched, or came into contact with, a dead body or a grave was automatically unclean for seven days (Numbers 19:16). Being thus unclean, he would be barred from synagogue or Temple worship. Now the Pharisees and Scribes were like these unmarked or unseen graves. All kinds of people were coming into contact with these “living, walking graves” and the graves were defiling them. Instead of having a cleansing, moralizing effect on the people, the Pharisees and Scribes had just the opposite. Imagine this, the people were actually being defiled by their religious leaders! And the sad thing about it was the people didn’t even know they were being defiled! [1032]

FNSome people, like the Gentiles and Samaritans, were regarded as always being unclean. Jews contracted uncleanness in any number of ways. (1) One was by eating unclean animals, Leviticus 11. (2) Another was through contact with the carcass of a human being or animal, Leviticus 11:8, 24-28, Numbers 19:11-22. (3) And still another was through leprosy, certain bodily discharges, and childbirth, Leviticus 13-15. (4) In quite a few cases, persons who contracted uncleanness could also pass the uncleanness on to other persons or objects that they touched. For example, the bed of an unclean person was rendered unclean and whoever touched the bed likewise became unclean. If people were in a house where someone had just died, they became unclean and whatever they touched, or whomever they touched, likewise became unclean. Objects can also become unclean if unclean animals or insects touched them. Water stored in an unclean pot was unclean and whatever food was prepared with unclean water was likewise unclean.

In this small sampling of ways in which a person could contract uncleanness, we see that contracting uncleanness in the course of daily life was inevitable, in fact, it was repeated many times over in the course of a single day. Ceremonial cleansing of an unclean person was accomplished through the washing of hands. In some instances, a ritual bath and the washing of one’s clothes were required. And in still other instances, the unclean were required to offer a sacrifice in the Temple. [1033]

FNA nomikós, one learned and instructed in the law. See our commentary on Luke 10:25, footnote 967 for the relationship between a lawyer and a scribe. The Pharisees and Scribes are often found together throughout the Gospel accounts. That’s because the Scribes studied and taught the law, both Mosaic and rabbinical; and the Pharisees devoted themselves to the diligent observance of the law. In this way, the Pharisees were heavily dependent upon the Scribes for their learning and conformity to the law. [1034]

FNHubrízo, meaning to shame, treat spitefully, or insult. It wasn’t Jesus’ intention to offend or insult, but the fact of the matter remained, the Pharisees and Scribes were personally offended and insulted. They were hurt by the things Jesus said.

Brethren, THE TRUTH ISN'T MEANT TO OFFEND, BUT THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS, IT'LL OFFEND SOME PEOPLE NONETHELESS. Why? Because not everyone will receive the truth. So does this mean we shouldn’t say something if there’s a good chance people will get offended? Friends, what did Jesus do? He went on ahead and said what needed to be said. Brethren, THE FACT THAT PEOPLE WILL GET OFFENDED DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY PREVENT US FROM SAYING WHAT NEEDS TO BE SAID. Don’t get me wrong. The true child of God isn’t out to hurt, offend, or insult. But WHEN THE TRUTH HAS TO BE MADE KNOWN, THEN SPEAKING THE TRUTH TAKES PRECEDENCE OVER THE PEOPLE'S FEELINGS. Brethren, if the people’s feelings matter the most to you, you’ll do poorly in the work of the kingdom. You can’t help people as long as you’re withholding the truth from them.

As a side note, it should be noted that our Lord’s denunciation of the Pharisees and Scribes began when the Pharisee first found fault with Jesus’ failure to wash His hands. Friends, IF YOU'RE GOING TO FIND FAULT WITH PEOPLE AND CRITICIZE THEM, THEN YOU OUGHT TO BE WILLING TO TAKE YOUR OWN MEDICINE WHEN THEY, IN TURN, FIND FAULT WITH YOU AND CRITICIZE YOU.

Criticism is a vicious cycle. When you criticize someone, they criticize you in return and their criticism arouses your ire even more, so that you criticize them some more. Brethren, break the cycle of criticism! (1) Quit criticizing people. (2) When they criticize you, die out to it. And (3) instead of returning criticism for criticism, pray for your critics. It’s the loving and right thing to do. [1035]

FNBurdens hard to bear or difficult to carry. [1036]

FNThe Pharisees and Scribes were good at laying the burdens of their laws on the backs of the people, but they themselves refused to bear them. They not only did not practice what they preached, but they also refused to live by the same standard. It was as if everybody else had to keep the laws, but they themselves didn’t have to. How did they do it? They cunningly and creatively devised all sorts of ways to get around their own laws. Corban is one such example. Everyone was indebted to help their parents materially or financially, but the Pharisees and Scribes got around this law by pronouncing Corban on their possessions or wealth. In that way, whatever was Corban or dedicated to God couldn’t be given to their parents (Matthew 15:3-6). It was a handy way to hold on to whatever money or possessions one had that one’s parents might need or ask for.

Another example is the limits of travel permissible on the Sabbath. According to rabbinical law, one couldn’t travel more than 2,000 cubits, or 1,000 yards, from one’s house on the Sabbath. How did the Pharisees and Scribes get around this limitation? By tying a rope at the end of the street 2,000 cubits away, the end of the street became their residence and thus, they could go another 2,000 cubits beyond that! Another way around this Sabbath limitation was, if food enough for two meals was left at a point near the 2,000 cubit limit, that point became their residence and so, they could go another 2,000 cubits beyond that! Do you see what I mean? The Pharisees and Scribes were good at legislating religious laws, but they weren’t very good at keeping their own laws. In fact, they devised all sorts of ways to get out of having to keep their own laws! No wonder Jesus said of them in Matthew 23:3, they say, and do not. [1037]

FNYe consent to the works of your fathers. By building the sepulchres of the prophets the people were only completing what their fathers did or began. Their fathers killed the prophets and they came along behind their fathers and buried them. Jesus, knowing their murderous hearts, convicted them of having the same murderous hearts as their prophet-killing fathers. Outwardly, they honored the prophets. But inwardly, they rejected them (i.e. John the Baptist) and some of the prophets they eventually killed (i.e. Jesus). Brethren, IT'S EASY TO HONOR THE MEMORY AND WORK OF A DEAD SERVANT OF THE LORD. BUT THE TRUE TEST OF OUR HONOR IS WHAT WE DO WITH THE SERVANTS OF GOD WHO YET LIVE. [1038]

FNEkdióko literally means to drive out or expel. It’s used figuratively to mean persecute. [1039]

FNThe murder of Abel is recorded in Genesis 4:1-8. The Zechariah who was stoned between the altar and the house (KJV, Temple) was Zechariah the son of Jehoiada, a pre-exilic prophet (2 Chronicles 24:15-22). In a similar denunciation in Matthew, Jesus referred to Zachariah the son of Barachiah who was slain between the temple and the altar (Matthew 23:35). The similarity between the Lucan and Matthean denunciations has led some scholars to believe that Barachiah and Jehoiada were one and the same person, as it was common practice for Jews to have two names. In that case, according to some scholars, the Zechariah that our Lord referred to was the Zechariah of 2 Chronicles 24. Since the Hebrew Bible began with the Book of Genesis and ended with the Book of Chronicles, Jesus’ citation of Abel and Zechariah was a fitting way for Him to speak of all the prophets who were killed during the Old dispensation, beginning with Abel in Genesis and ending with Zechariah in Chronicles, the last Book of the Hebrew Bible.

On the other hand, there is a Zechariah, the son of Barachiah, in Scripture. He was a post-exilic prophet who authored the Book by his name (Zechariah 1:1). Although Scriptures do not relate how he died, his death was probably common knowledge and recorded in writings that are now lost to us. The fact that two prophets were slain in the Temple precincts should not be deemed unlikely inasmuch as the Jews on more than one occasion tried to stone and kill our Lord in the Temple (John 8:59, 10:22-31). Friends, it is sheer madness that God’s people would kill God’s servants in God’s house! [1040]

FNThose who killed the prophets will be held answerable and accountable for their deeds. But I honestly don’t know why the blood of all the prophets killed from the beginning of time to Zechariah will be required of the generation of Jews who were alive in Jesus’ day. I can only surmise and say that the aforementioned prophets were part of the Old Testament dispensation and, with the death of our Lord, that generation of Jews marked the end of the Old dispensation. In other words, with the close of the Old, all the misdeeds and wrongs of the Old will be judicially addressed in the judgment of the last Old Testament generation. And the judgment is all the more severer for them because they failed to learn from the sins of their fathers. They still harbored in their hearts that murderous impulse that seeks to silence and kill all those who expose, convict, and rebuke them for sin. [1041]

FNThe verb aíro can mean to take away, but it also mean to take up or carry. When a lawyer or instructor of the law was ordained, a key was formally presented to him. This key represented knowledge of the law. Just as my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6), so knowledge of the Scriptures makes one “wise unto salvation” (2 Timothy 3:15). These Scribes bore or carried the key of knowledge, but it was the wrong key. Theirs was the key of men’s traditions and teachings, hence, it was utterly incapable of opening up the kingdom to men. The lawyers got to a point where they set the Scriptures off to the side and they taught nothing but rabbinical laws. For this reason Jesus denounced them in Mark 7:7-8 and said, Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. {8} For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. By steering men away from the knowledge of the Scriptures and teaching them the many doctrines of men, these teachers of the law were preventing men from entering the kingdom. Brethren, STAY WITH THE SCRIPTURES AND BEWARE OF TEACHERS AND CHURCHES WHO LADEN YOU DOWN WITH THE DOCTRINES OF MEN. THE DOCTRINES OF MEN WON'T GET YOU INTO THE KINGDOM: THEY'LL BAR YOU FROM THE KINGDOM! [1042]

FNThe word Pharisee literally means ‘separated one’. Three guiding principles of a Pharisee were: (1) not to make use, or partake, of anything that hadn’t been tithed; (2) to observe the laws of purification; and (3) to abstain from social interaction with anyone who wasn’t a Pharisee, so as not to be defiled. A. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Vol. 2, page 212. Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976. [1043]

FNLeviticus 15:1-15 and Leviticus 15:19-31 are other examples: men and women who had certain bodily discharges were required to present a sin and a burnt offering as an atonement for their uncleanness. [1043a]

FNBy unclean person, reference is not made to Gentiles, Samaritans, or non-pious Jews, for these sorts of people would not gain entrance in the home of a Pharisee. Even pious, observant Jews became unclean. For example, a woman in her monthly cycle would be unclean and thus, many of the things that she touched automatically became unclean. A man with an oozing wound was unclean. If a Pharisee was touched by an unclean person, or walked on an unclean street, or held food that was handled by an unclean person, ad infinitum, he was automatically unclean. [1044]

FNUnwritten in the sense that it’s not written in Scripture. The practical application of the Word may be based on Scripture, i.e. ritual purity; but the application itself isn’t specifically stated in Scripture, i.e. the very specific manner in which one’s hands are ceremonially washed. [1045]

FNIt’s at this point where many Christians miss the Lord. In seeking not to be legalistic or be burdened down with so many laws, they go to the opposite extreme and, for all practical purposes, become lawless under the guise of Christian liberty or freedom. They do whatever they want to do with very little restraint and regard all calls to obedience as being legalistic, unchristian, and wrong. CHRISTIANITY, BRETHREN, IS FREEDOM FROM THE LAW. BUT IT'S NOT FREEDOM FROM OBEDIENCE. Jesus said, If ye love me, keep my commandments  (John 14:15). [1046]

FNHonoring one’s parents is another such example. Mosaic Law required the Jews to honor their parents, but it didn’t specifically state all the things one could, or should, do in honoring one’s parents. One of the unwritten applications of this Scripture was, it was incumbent upon the grown-up children to help their parents out materially or financially. When the Pharisees and Scribes failed to do this, our Lord rebuked them. He said in Mark 7:9-13, And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. {10} For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: {11} But ye say, 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. {12} And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; {13} Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. Do you see what’s happening here? The Lord’s rebuking the Pharisees and Scribes for failing to do something that wasn’t even specifically written or required in Scripture! Why, then, did He rebuke them if it wasn’t written in Scripture? Because by failing to make the application of the Law in a material or financial way, these religious leaders violated the spirit and principle of the Law: they failed to honor their parents. [1047]

FNEphesians 2:8-10 reads, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: {9} Not of works, lest any man should boast. {10} For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. [1048]


Not only that, but you make Christ’s death and grace vain, useless, and of no effect for you because, if you could save yourself, He wouldn’t have died to save you. Brethren, Christ’s death set you free from having to work for, or earn, your salvation. God says, Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. {2} Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. {3} For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. {4} Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace (Galatians 5:1-4). Salvation is a gift from God that’s received by faith, not earned by works. Personally speaking, in the example of dresses, I can’t see God keeping a woman out of the kingdom for wearing dresses above the calves. [1049]

FNA problem that’s uniformly found in those who are legalistic and who wish to control other believers is two-fold. (1) They have a works salvation whereby failure to live up to their dictates results in the automatic loss of one’s salvation. And (2) they become the keeper of Heaven’s gates. That is, they determine who’s going to go in and who’s not. Invariably, the number of those who are going to Heaven get smaller and smaller as the vast majority of the brethren will, at one time or another, fail to live up to their expectations or laws. Consequently, as Heaven’s population gets smaller and smaller, the legalists become prouder and prouder in the fact that they are one of the chosen few who will be entering into Heaven.

Now without doubt, the numbers of those who make it to Heaven are few when compared with the total population of Earth’s inhabitants throughout Earth’s history (Matthew 7:14). But as one reads through Revelation 21 and other related texts, we see that the new, heavenly Jerusalem that descends from Heaven to the new Earth will measure 1500 miles long, 1500 miles wide, and 1500 miles high. That’s 2,250,000 square miles for every vertical mile of the cubed city. If we take the total cubic miles of the city, assuming my math is correct, the Holy City would encompass 3,375,000,000 cubic miles. Brethren, New Jerusalem is one big city! It’s not going to be a lonely place to live. The number of people who are saved during the time of the great tribulation alone is an innumerable number, Revelation 7:9-14. The point? Even without relaxing the Lord’s requirements for entry into glory, there’s going to be a lot more people in glory than you think! [1050]

FNIn order to help me differentiate or discern the issues that divide, I have artificially made some distinctions for my own benefit.  I present them to you in the hopes that they’ll help you clarify the issues on which the people of God differ. (1) A quotation is a word-for-word acknowledgement of what the Scriptures say. (2) A belief is a doctrine, teaching, or statement based on a quotation of Scripture. (3) An interpretation is one’s own personal understanding of what the Scriptures mean. And (4) a conviction is the way in which one chooses to apply the Scriptures as he or she understands them to one’s own life. For example,

Jeremiah 17:5-7 Cursed is the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm...Blessed in the man that trusteth in the Lord.  God doesn’t want us to trust in the arm of flesh; He wants us to trust Him totally and solely. What is the arm of flesh? A doctor in the case of sickness. When I’m sick I’m going to trust God for my healing and not go to the doctor.
Deut. 22:5 A woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man. God doesn’t want women to wear men’s clothing. God wants women to wear clothing that’s unique or peculiar to women.