Monthly Archives: August 2016

Mark 7:31 – 8:26

Title: Busyness or Business

Text: Mark 7.31-8.26

Introduction: The Back Story of the NYTimes Daily Briefing on Friday reads:

Fifteen major league baseball games will be contested tonight, in 15 North American cities. With just over a month of the regular season remaining, about a dozen teams are jockeying for position in the standings. Fans can follow every move from anywhere there’s a cell phone signal, with stats, push notifications and high-definition broadcasts.

Things were different 77 years ago today, when M.L.B. televised its first game. Two games, actually, with the Brooklyn Dodgers hosting the Cincinnati Reds in a split doubleheader. (The Reds won, then the Dodgers.) The first broadcast of a collegiate baseball game had happened already, in May, as Columbia played Princeton. All the signals were sent from the tower at the Empire State Building. As the Times dispatch that day in 1939 reported — under the subhead “Major League Baseball Makes Its Radio Camera Debut”: “Over the video-sound channels of the station, television-set owners as far away as fifty miles viewed the action and heard the roar of the crowd, according to the National Broadcasting Company.”

HD this was not: “At times it was possible to catch a fleeting glimpse of the ball,” the article noted, “as it sped from the pitcher’s hand toward home plate.”

I can almost picture in my mind the static-like, black and white, picture. If the shot was from too far away, you’d not be able to make out the ball coming from the pitcher hand. Nor, would you be able to follow a hit ball with any real accuracy.

When watching a baseball game, you like the cameras to switch around. You like to be pulled out and back so you can see that the outfield is shifted in one direction or the other. Or maybe the team is floating the shortstop so far back he looks like the roaming position in a softball game. At other times you like to zoom in real close so you can see the signals of the catcher or see the intensity of the batter’s face. That’s the thing about being there that is so cool. You do all of that naturally with your own eyes. Some of you probably remember when TV was in black and white and you couldn’t get a good picture – you couldn’t make out the ball sometimes, especially when the picture was from far away. This story resonates with me because we got our first color TV when I was in the 4th grade. Then, in about a year’s time, we moved to Europe where AFRTS was still only available in B&W. I was in the 8th grade when Color Television became a regular thing in our home.

Well, sometimes you want a wide-angle look. Sometimes you want to see the entire field of play. So much of my preaching is done in digging deep into a text. I like zooming in close and placing my focus upon specific items. I like to take a few verses and zoom in. That’s more my style. I’ve explained in this series, that I’ve wanted to take the Gospel of Mark at a much faster pace. My desire is to cover more ground. Sure, I’ll slow down and take one small section at certain times. I did that last week. However, this morning I’d like to pull away once again – to fly over Mark at about 15,000 ft to gain a better understanding of what he’s been doing. I think when we’re done this morning, it’ll make more sense to you.

With that being said, here’s what I intend to do this morning:

  1. An Outline of the Texte., I’m going to hit all 5 stories here.
  2. A Comparison of the Texts, we’re going to see similarities in other passages.
  3. The Theology in Application sure, there are teaching points in each small story, but I’m looking for the melodic line of the overall passage. That is what we’ll find in the Theology in Application section.

Transition: let’s begin with this 1st task…

I.      An Outline of the Text

exp.:    This particular pericope is bookended by two miracles of healing (7.31-37; 8.22-26). These miracles are similar in their presentation. Take your Bible and put these passages side by side. Maybe your friend, your spouse, your sibling, whoever is sitting next to you will take one passage, say 7.31-37 and you take 8.22-26; Now that we’re set up, let’s compare the two passages. 6 Similarities:

  1. ‘They brought’ someone needing a miracle. (7.32; 8.22)
  2. ‘They begged’ Jesus to intercede. (7.32; 8.22)
  3. Jesus dealt with these needs privately. (7.33; 8.23)
  4. Both miracles were accomplished in 2 stages. (7.33-34; 8.23-25)
  5. Both miracles display the use of saliva (7.33; 8.23)
  6. Messianic Secret. Jesus encouraged them to remain silent. (7.36; 8.26)

The middle sections continue with the theme: Jesus, the Bread of Life.

  1. Jesus feeds 4,000 with bread and fish. (8.1-10) This miracle is set in two stages as well. rd v 5-6; but it doesn’t end there – look at v 7- 8a; So, we have the bread and then, the fish.

Now, before I leave this section, some people have asked if this is the same story as chapter 6 or is it a different story altogether. It’s different. This is something you could talk about in your Bible study groups. What differences are there between these two? I say there are so many differences, that they must be two separate accounts. Next,

  1. The Pharisees fail to see and understand that Jesus is who he says he is, the Bread of life. (8.11-13)

exp.: in 8.11-13 the Pharisees demand a sign;

  1. Don’t mistake this for a miracle. To the Jews, Signs are indeed miraculous, but miracles are necessarily signs. They’ve seen miracles. My guess is they’ve seen lots of ‘miracles’. The key for us is to see that the sign they demand of Jesus is from “Heaven” (11). They want him to do something with God stamped on it. You could read this to mean a sign up in the heavens – (you know, make it rain, make the sun stop shinning, or maybe something to do with the stars). But, I think it means a sign that demonstrates God’s approval.
  2. To be sure, the word sign never means miracle in Mark (w/ the exception of the last chapter).
  3. Test is the same word as Mark 1.13; tempted; They’re doing the same thing Satan did – and they’ll fail, like Satan did. Here, I think, is Mark’s teaching – the motive of these guys is no different than that of their father, the Devil.

When we consider what to do and what to be a part of, there are two questions we ask ourselves:

  1. What is the family business? Developing passionate followers of Christ.
  2. How’s business? Pretty good, for the most part. A struggle in others.

Each ministry can ask itself this Question and gauge its production by it. It is what we did Thursday night.

  1. What is the family business? Developing passionate followers of Christ. Some of you might be thinking: But we’re a church, not a business. Let me ask you, is this not our Father’s business? When Mary and Joseph sought their little son who had gone missing, they found him in the Temple. What did he tell them? “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” That purpose drove him. So, let me ask you again: What is the family business?
  2. How’s is this request going to help our business? 2 x’s in our elders mtg we moved quickly through the requests because the answer was obvious: it doesn’t help us reach our goal. It isn’t necessarily good for business. So, the answer was obvious. No.

app.: Jesus is dialed in on his work. Their request is busyness to keep him from his Father’s business. We must respond in like fashion: is this busyness or business? We’ve got to be about our Father’s business.

  1. The disciples fail to see and understand that Jesus is the Bread of Life. (8.14-21) This is important! Don’t miss this. We’ve actually seen this before? Rd v 16-21; Don’t you get this guys? Uh, no, sir.

t.s.: Now, I’d like to move from this section, and do a comparison. You know how I said, we’ve actually seen this before? It was just after Jesus had fed the 5,000 up in 6.50-52; rd 6.50-52; That got me to thinking, we’ve seen others similar stories and activities already in Mark.

 

II.     A Comparison of The Previous Text

exp.:

 

6:31–44

 

Feeding the multitude

 

8:1–9

 

6:45–56

 

Crossing the sea and landing

 

8:10

 

6.50-52 Their hearts are hardened and they do not understand. 8.18-21
7:1–23

 

Conflict with the Pharisees

 

8:11–13

 

7:24–30

 

A negative discussion about bread

 

8:14–21

 

7:31–36

 

Healing (Blind & Deaf)

 

8:22–26

 

app.: Through these two sections, there are similarities. Is this a coincidence? Well, Leroy Jethro Gibbs says there are no coincidences. And, that’s good advice for us as we look at these texts. Mark is up to something. I think he’s wanting to show us a bigger picture. I think he wants us to see the miracles in two stages. Jesus is doing those miracles in stages on purpose. I think he wants us also to identify that the disciples are dull both times Jesus talks about the bread. And, that there is a point he is making: Jesus is the Bread of Life.

Transition: So, we’ve looked at the Outline, We’ve noted the comparison of this big outline to the previous section. Now, let’s look at the Theology being taught.

III.    Theology in Application

exp.: So, we’ve answered the question that Mark is up to something – something larger than just story telling. But just what is he up to? 1st, Mark is wanting us to see:

  1. In Christ we are seeing the fulfillment of Isaiah’s Prophecy in 35.5-6; rd Isaiah 35.1-6; there is a dual fulfillment here – the physical and the spiritual. And we see that is exactly what Mark is doing for us in this passage. The blind do see (i.e.: physically) and the deaf do hear (i.e.: physically); however, there is the spiritual side to this as well. The Pharisees are blinded and they go on in their blindness, but the disciples, though they are not perceiving, they will! Though they are not hearing – they will! And, though it is just a little at first, it will grow, it will progress and they will see and hear.

Transition: Which brings me to the 2nd Theological Application…

  1. Seeing is Believing; Perceiving is believing; Rd 8.17-18; the answer here is, ‘no, we don’t.’ So, how do we know they will? I think this is given to us in the physical miracles. Note: the deaf, the blind, and the bread – these miracles appear to take place in two stages.

a.   Deaf: 1. He put his fingers in his ears, spit and touched his tongue. 2. He                                      looked up into heaven, sighed and spoke.

b.   Bread: 1. He distributed the bread. 2. And then, separately, he distributed the                            fish.

c.   Blind: 1. spit on his eyes, and laid his hands on him. But people looked like                                trees moving around. 2. So, He laid his hands on his eyes again.

Transition: Which is a great segue for our 3rd Theological Application…

  1. Faith is a progressive experience… think: process and progress. Do you see our miracles in the physical realm? Here is another question we must ask ourselves: Does the God of this Universe, the One who spoke our world into order and existence, Is He Insufficient in any way that he would need to conduct his miracles in stages? It isn’t like Jesus said: “Oh, you still can’t see? Well, let me do a little more… there!” In modern medicine, yes, you take your antibiotics for 10 days to three weeks. It’s a slow process.

Not so with God. We’ve seen him perform miracles without even lifting a hand. He just thinks it and it is done. Remember the Syrophoenician woman? Rd 7.29: 29 And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” Perfect tense – a state of being because of a past action! She’s already free from the Demon. The answer to this question is “no”. And yet, Jesus repeats this 2-stage process again. Listen to Mark Strauss, professor of NT at Bethel Seminary in San Diego. In his commentary on Mark he writes: The two stages of these miracles represent the disciples’ gradual progression toward spiritual understanding. Faith is a progressive experience. The gradual healing of the blind man illustrates the gradual progress of faith in the life of the disciples. Though they have begun their journey by choosing to follow Jesus, they have much to learn. There is a long and challenging road ahead, and it will be full of fits and starts.

  1. These sections of Scripture are in two different geographical locations and to two different groups of people. 1. The Jews. and 2. The Gentiles. I think Mark is reminding us that the Gospel is universal in nature. Yes, it is focused up on the Jews in the beginning, but shortly, the gospel will spread to the World.

Conclusion:

            So, where do we go from here. Well, 1st, if you’ve never surrendered your life to Christ – let today be that day. Is it possible your heart has been hardened to Christ? You’ve demanded signs or your way in some venture, but Christ was focused on his mission. Have you ever thought, my friend, that Christ is more concerned for your soul, than he is for your flesh. What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and yet loses his soul? Don’t let this moment pass you buy if you’ve never committed your life to Christ.

2ndly, Maybe today you’re just filled with questions and you want to talk with someone. I’m going to ask some men to come down to the front and just sit on the front row. You can come and pray at the altar, or you can ask one of them to pray with you. You can ask them questions.

3rdly, Maybe there is a decision you’ve made and you need to make it public. You’ve accepted Christ recently or maybe God has called you into the ministry. I’m not sure what your needs are, but I know that God does. So, you respond as He leads you this morning.

 

 

 

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Filed under Mark, Mission Statement, Purpose, Sermon, Sermons, Uncategorized

Mark 7:24-30

Title: The Gospel to the Gentiles: Part 1

Text: Mark 7.24-30

Introduction: We’re in the midst of a sermon series on Mark: Jesus, the Bread of Life. This section is in Mark 6.30-8.21; it is the extended ministry of Jesus, beyond the Sea of Galilee. Here in chapter 7, Jesus has rebuked the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and their clinging to the traditions of men, above even the Word of God. In that passage, Jesus declared all food clean. And then, he does something amazing: he gets up from there and enters into Gentile territory. Now, the Jews wouldn’t eat or fellowship with Gentiles. If someone went into the home of a Gentile, that person would become unclean. Now, that is nowhere in the Law of God, but it had simply become one of their own traditions or standards.

Listen, setting standards can be a good thing. I think you should set standards for yourself. In order to help you live a holy and godly life, set some standards. But, don’t make those the requirements for getting into heaven! That standard has already been set!

  • Let’s say you decide you’re never going to go out on Saturday nights, but instead, you’ll be home by a certain time and get ready for Sunday. There is nothing wrong with that. However, when you begin to judge others who don’t live the same way – then, you’re wrong.
  • Let’s say you decide you’re always going to look your best on Sunday mornings. You want to present your very best to God. Great. Iron you clothes, polish your shoes, Get your hair cut or done on Saturday. Whatever it takes. But here is where you might mess up: when you judge the brother or sister who isn’t in their suit and tie, or in their nicest dress.

Yes, set standards to help yourself – just don’t make them the requirement for salvation!

Jesus is going to step outside the standards set by the traditions of the elders…again. He just did it in 7.1-23. He’s going to do it again by going into Gentile territory.

And here is where we pick up the storyline in v 24 – I’ve divided this passage into three main parts:

  1. Jesus withdraws from that region into the land of the Gentiles.
  2. A desperate mother discovers his whereabouts and petitions him to save her daughter.
  3. Jesus responds to this mother in a very uncharacteristic way.

Transition: Let’s begin with this 1st point…

I.      Jesus withdraws from that region (24)

exp.: rd v 24; the fact that he didn’t want anyone to know where he was demonstrates for me his desire to be hidden – to get away from people.

Ill.: I’m sure you remember Southwest Airlines commercials from a few years back – back before there was DVR? You want to get away? I love the one where the delivery man is headed back to his truck after dropping something off at this house. The couple who lives there is working in their garden by the driveway. He sees a basketball and decides to be cool and take a shot. The couple watches as he picks up the ball and ‘air balls it’, missing the rim but shooting the ball right through the glass windows on the garage door. The couple looks at him – he looks at the couple: you want to get away?

Well, Jesus wanted to get away and so he gets up and heads northwest toward the region of Tyre and Sidon.  Now, a great question to ask for discussion later would be: why? Why did Jesus need to be hidden or want to be hidden? Maybe he was tired and needed rest? Maybe he wanted to demonstrate further about what is truly clean and unclean?

Transition: It’s the last part of this verse that lets us in on the story – though he wanted to be, Jesus couldn’t be hidden! This desperate momma finds out about him and makes an appearance. So, point #1, there is this need to get away. Point #2 –

II.     A Desperate Mother Discovers His Whereabouts (25-26)

exp.: Now, we know very little about this woman, but look at what Mark does tell us:

  1. Her problem: rd v 25;
    1. A demon possessed daughter; That’s what this means; I think Mark uses this word, unclean because it fits with his theme. What is clean and unclean: what is unclean is the demon inside this little girl – not the girl. So, desperate is she that she comes and falls down at his feet. What humility! Surely she knows he Jewish. Surely she knows he’s a man. Middle eastern behavior would frown upon this. Mark down this character trait: humility. Rd v 26a;
    2. A Woman, not just a woman, but a Gentile woman! And, if this were not enough, she is Syrophoenician by birth! Talk about unclean in the eyes of the Pharisees. When you read this, a certain woman should pop into your minds. Can you name a king who married a Syrophoenician woman? Can you name that evil woman?

Ill.: I read somewhere that the Jewish men pray daily a prayer of thanks – that they weren’t born: Women, slaves, or Gentiles.

That’s just how poor of a view the Jews had toward Gentiles. Maybe they still do – I don’t know.

app.: for some reason, this doesn’t matter to her. She’s desperate. Her daughter needs help and she believes Jesus is the only one who can save her daughter. Now, this really comes out in the last sentence of v 26; here we see…

  1. Her persistence: rd 26b; this word translated begged is really more of an interpretation, I think. You see, the word actually means asked or requested. If you translate it straight out – word for word, you lose something. In the original language here, there are two ways of describing past tense: aorist, is simple past tense (she asked); imperfect tense shows action in the past (she kept on asking); That’s the picture here: she wouldn’t leave him alone.

app.: So there is a persistent request from a desperate mother in spite of the fact that Jesus desires to remain hidden. And, why not? What really does she have to lose? At this point, an odd thing happens…

III.    Jesus responds to this mother in a very uncharacteristic way (27-29)

exp.: Jesus answers her in a way that shocks even the most hard-hearted of people. Rd v 27; this is strange or odd because Jesus uses…

  • A Strange Illustration: Jesus uses what is called the ‘Family Table’ illustration to refuse her request. Now, we could go so many places from here, but I’ll just save that for your Bible Study time. For now, I want you to just note that there is a theme in Mark about eating and eating at the table. There is the idea of fellowship, and more importantly, fellowship with Jesus. In this illustration, Jesus speaks of Children and their eating of bread. It isn’t that the dogs aren’t to be fed, but that the children are to be fed first. It isn’t odd that Jesus uses a ‘Family Dinning Experience’ as an illustration – that’s not odd. The odd part is that…
  • Jesus compares or relates exorcism to the family dining table. Now, that’s just weird. Let that sink in: Jesus, I have a daughter who has a demon in her. Will you cast it out of her, please? How in the world does he get to the dinner table from there?

Remember this trick: when you aren’t sure of what Jesus is doing, try to figure out the easy, obvious answers.

  • Children – The Children of Israel. The OT uses this comparison repeated. I think it is safe to assume these children in his analogy are the Children of Israel; They are fed first; 1st means priority. It doesn’t mean that no one else within or outside of the family won’t eat! It’s just that the children in our illustration have priority. So, 1st answer we have is
  • Fed – lit.: to be satisfied, or to eat their fill; This word appears 2 other times in the Mark; both are when Jesus feeds the 5,000 and the 4,000; The beatitudes: Matt 5.“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. We see this also in the parable of Lazarus, who desired to be filled or satisfied by the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. At this stage, I think it is safe to say that the Gospel is what satisfies and it is to be presented to the Children of Israel first. It’s a matter of timing. This demonstrates the Priority in the Gospel; as Paul writes 3x’s to the Romans: to the Jew first, and then the Gentile. Still, pretty straight forward. Next,
  • Bread – v 27; the children’s bread; here is another example of Bread being used by Mark in these three chapters (6-8); now because of our previous work on this topic, we know that the Bread is Jesus. We will probably see it each week until we reach the halfway point of Mark; in each analogy, we see that Jesus is the Bread of Life (27); To be sure, it is a lot of work to get there, and I’ll refer you to last week’s sermon to study up on the Bread of Life But, there is no doubt that Jesus is the Bread in this illustration: he is the one who fills and satisfies the soul. His priority is 1st to the Children of Israel. Here is where it get’s ugly…rd 27b
  • Dogs – that’s a harsh word. There is no way to clean that up in translation. So, before we talk about this word, can I say a word about my Savior? Again – remember, when you don’t understand something, go with what you know – what are the obvious answers.
    • He is good and merciful. He isn’t mean and hateful. So, I know right away, that he doesn’t mean what I might think it means in the 21st century; this isn’t Jesus being mean and hateful. He is perfect and no sin dwells in him. He isn’t selfish or even rude. He isn’t being ugly to her because she found him when he was trying to remain hidden.
    • 2ndly, He knows everything. He knows what I need before I even do.

ill.: I’ve seen him have someone in another county or another state write a check to cover my needs before I even know I’m going to need it. The need appears and then, so does the check, which was written last week.

This is what I know about Jesus: He knows what this woman needs! And what he says to her is what she needs to hear. It may not be what I’d say. It might not be the thing to say in western culture. But, it is what she needs to hear.

  • The word ‘dog’ or ‘dogs’ appears 9x’s in the NT; Over 40x’s in the Bible; This particular word from the Gk only appears 4 times. That caught my attention. It turns out there is another word translated dog. These two words come from the same root; however, this word here, is slightly different. It means a small dog, a housedog or even a lap dog. This would be common for Gentiles, because Jews would not have dogs. The other word is for big, wild dogs that roam freely. It is a euphemism for the immoral and/or evil people. That word isn’t this word. Jesus uses a word that she is culturally familiar with. I don’t know this, but I’m guessing that Jesus uses a word that is close to her situation – a word that she will take to heart; a word that she will understand and connect with. That changes the meaning for me. I couldn’t find a translation that made this distinction. But it is there – and that changes so much for me. Jesus isn’t using a word to describe the immoral and perverted (cf. Ps 22.16: 16 For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet—).

So, here we have this strange confrontation. Jesus answers her repeated request with just what she needs to hear. He’s taking her somewhere in this conversation. There is something he wants to see from her. And, it looks like he gets what he’s looking for in her; rd 28; I love this!

  • A Witty Response: Lord, even the little, house dogs under the table eat from the crumbs of the children.

Take a moment and check out her demeanor: We’ve already seen that she is showing humility in her posture and desperation. Now we see her wit and wisdom in her response. She could have gotten offended and walked away, leaving her daughter to continue suffering. But there is something more. And it is her faith. She wants this bread, and even if it’s just the crumbs from the bread – it is enough.

Wow! Oh, to have this kind of faith in Jesus. So great and mighty is he, that all she needs is just a crumb and it will suffice to save her daughter.

Now, you don’t see this here, but it is clearer in Matthew’s gospel: Jesus is impressed with her.

Ill.: I kind of had this experience once. Kind of… Stephen was 16 years old. He hadn’t had his license for very long and he came and asked if he could drive out into the Bad Lands with his friends and build a bonfire. I didn’t even give him a chance to explain what they were doing, who was going, etc. I just shut him down by saying NO! He didn’t even hesitate. He simply said yes, sir. No sadness, No disappointment, just, simple obedience. Yes, sir. Then he turned to leave.

I said, wait. Aren’t you going to debate this with me? Aren’t you going to argue with me until you get your way? He told me no. He asked and I gave my answer and that was enough. I was blown away. I asked him to tell me more about this bonfire out in the middle of nowhere. Then, I let him go.

Jesus is moved somewhat like that. He’s caught off guard by this woman’s wise and witty response. So impressed with this woman’s humility and faith, that he grants her request for her daughter. Rd v 29;

  • A Timely Grant: On account of the word, depart (imperative); The demon has come out (perfect) of your daughter. Now, you don’t see this in the English translation, but the Gk verb here uses the perfect tense. The perfect tense means a current state, based on a past action: meaning, as Jesus is saying the words, the demon has already gone. The girl is no longer possessed. Rd v 30

Application: So, what will we take home with us today?

  1. Jesus knows just what you need – even if you don’t! I can’t answer for your struggles. I can’t place blame or offer any defense for what Jesus is doing in your life. But this I know: Jesus knows just what you need – even if you don’t!
    1. Can I add to that? He knows what others need, too. You might think you know best for others – no matter what your intentions are – But he still knows what is best for them. It may seem harsh. It may seem unfair, But, he really does know what is best. And, he knows what he’s doing in their life.
  2. God rewards faith and humility demonstrated in him. This Gentile woman is a remarkable model of faith. Knowing God can do something and living your life in response to that knowledge are two different things altogether! It is one thing to say something, but another to live it out. Think of the woman from Zarephath in 1 Kings 17: You have a jar with a little flour left and a jar with a little oil left. But, to make a loaf of bread for your guest and feed him first means so much more than simply acknowledging with your mind and mouth who that person is.
  3. Salvation has now become accessible to all.
    1. Yes, there is a priority to the Gospel. That hasn’t changed. Israel still is God’s chosen people and I am opposed to how our government is now treating Israel. The blessings of Genesis 12 remain as true today as they did when God spoke them to Abraham. With that being said, we also know that the Gospel is universal in scope.
    2. The Gospel is for the entire world. We saw this when Jesus healed the Gadarene Demoniac. Jesus healed him and sent him as an evangelist, as a missionary to the Decapolis. Now, we see it again with this Canaanite Woman.
      1. We’re reminded in 1 Kings 17 that it has always been that way. Somehow, in their Jewish minds, they had thought of themselves as better than others.
      2. God reminded them through prophets like Isaiah who said (49.6): I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth. Let us remember this: the poor, the needy, the desperate, the single mom, the foreigner, the sinner – Christ died for the ungodly, to bring the ungodly to God.
  • Listen to Galatians 3.6-9: just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

 

 

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Filed under Discipleship, Evangelism, Israel, Mark, missions, Scripture

Mark 7.1-23

Title: The Traditions of Men

Text: Mark 7.1-23

Introduction: Our text this morning is Mark 7.1-23. As we left off last week, we saw Jesus ministering to the people in the region of the Gennesaret. You see that there in 6.53ff; 6.51-52 give us some context of what’s coming in the next chapter and beyond. 51 And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened. It just doesn’t seem to fit does it? They’re astounded and amazed and every time they’re ‘astounded or amazed’ this has been presented as a positive for them. cf.: 1.22, 26; 2.12; 5.20, 42

1.22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. And in v 27: 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”

2.12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

5.20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled. And in v 42; 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement.

It has been a positive for them, that is, until now. Now we see them… utterly astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened. Two negatives: not understanding and hardened hearts.

This should create some problems for us – it should cause us to question:

  1. What is it they do not understand about the loaves?
  2. What does Mark mean when he says their hearts were hardened? Are they in danger of becoming like the Pharisees?

When I hear of hardened hearts, I think of Pharaoh. There were amazing miracles going on before his very eyes and he didn’t understand. His heart was hardened and it led to the exodus. Could this be an allusion to the Exodus? And if so, what is Jesus trying to teach them – or Mark trying to teach us?

But there is more here: pull back from this sentence and look for common themes with me. There in v 52 we see that they didn’t understand about miracle the loaves of bread. Well, that’s a reference to the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000. Out of curiosity, I searched for bread in Mark. It appears 16x’s in these three chapters (6-8) and it appears only 3x’s in the rest of the book. That’s significant. Why? I think I know and it is something we should take note of: Mark wants us to see this theme of bread – Because Jesus is the Bread of Life.

Now before you say, What? Let me show you what I mean: The 3 references to bread outside of these three chapters (6-8) are in 2.26; 3.20; and 14.22. 3.20 is a reference to the fact that they were so pressed by the people that they couldn’t even sit down and eat bread. 2.26 is in reference to the show bread given to the Lord and reserved for the priest that David ate with his friends. And 14.22 is in reference to the Lord’s Supper. This is my body, which is broken for you.

In the other Gospels the writers are blatant and blunt. I am the bread of Life. But, not with Mark. I think he is saying the same thing, but he is much more subtle at it. It’s like a pearl that’s hidden in a field and we’ve got to search it out.

Walk with me through chapters 6-8 and find the references to Bread; Gk: 6.8, 37, 38, 41, 44, 52; 7.2, 5, 27; 8.4, 5, 6, 14, 16, 17, 19.

But there is more with this… not just the theme of the bread, but the hardening of their hearts, the darkening of their understanding. Mark is especially hard on the Disciples – and remember, he’s written this Gospel from Peter’s stories.

…but their hearts were hardened. We see this back up in 3.5: And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. And v 6 says they went out (the Pharisees) and plotted how to destroy him. That’s where the hardness of their hearts led – to his death.

We see it again in the passage we’re looking at today – where Jesus quotes Isaiah – And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “ ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;

This section will culminate in Chapter 8.14-21; where Jesus asks them: Do you not yet understand? The answer is no… we’re not understanding what you’re doing. Here in 8.21, marks the transition to the next section in Mark’s Gospel, where Jesus will set his face toward Jerusalem and his crucifixion. He will tell the disciples all about it, but we’ll see they aren’t getting it.

Let me pause right here and pray for eyes to see and ears to hear what God is teaching us… Pray.

Lord, Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. 19 I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me! Give me a heart to follow closely after your heart. I pray this prayer, not just for myself, but for those who are listening. Open the eyes of our hearts and let us see the beauty of your ways. Soften these hearts to receive your teaching and then to commit, with all of our heart, to follow you, Lord.

With this thought of the Bread of Life and the disciples missing what Jesus is teaching, Let’s look at today’s passage, 7.1-23; There three separate sections to this little story of the Pharisees and their confrontation with Jesus:

  1. The Pharisees are offended and confront Jesus about his disciples’ lack of discipline when it comes to the traditions of the elders (1-5).
  2. Jesus responds to the Pharisees hypocrisy with Scripture references and examples (6-13).
  3. Jesus uses this confrontation as a teaching moment to show his disciples the principles that characterize the heart of God (14-23).

Transition: let’s begin with this 1st section, the offended Pharisees…

I.      The Pharisees are offended and confront Jesus about his disciples’ lack of discipline when it comes to the traditions of the elders (1-5).

exp.: in v 1 and 2, we see why they’re offend; rd v 1-2; here we have…

  • The Offence: eating bread w/ unwashed, defiled hands. And all of God’s children said – NASTY! Yeah! Any germ-a-phobe like me is going to side with the Pharisees on this one! At first glance, you might say you agree with them. But is that really the problem? We have…
  • The Explanation: rd v 3-4; properly: Gk is unless they wash their hands with a fist. There is a certain way to wash, and the disciples aren’t doing that. When you read this you get the idea that these guys were just eating with dirty hands. I’m with the Pharisees if that’s the case! But a closer look at the Gk tells us that their complaint wasn’t that they didn’t wash their hands; it was that they didn’t wash their hands “with a fist”. They didn’t wash their hands the way the Pharisees do! If it ain’t done like we do it… it ain’t done! So, here’s the deal: Jesus is responsible for his disciples. It might just be his fault as much as it is theirs. So they confront Jesus about his apparent failure to teach the disciples how to wash themselves.
  • The Confrontation: rd v 5; the word translated ‘defiled’ is the word common. Common and Uncommon are words used in the Law to differentiate the clear distinction between the things of God and the things of man. Sometimes you see the words holy and This is the word they’re using here. They eat with common hands or unholy hands. When they say that the disciples are eating bread with unclean hands, they don’t mean they have dirt under their fingernails. Clean and Unclean, Uncommon and Comman, Holy and Unholy – this is the terminology these folks would have been familiar with. You see their thought was that you had to baptize your hands before eating. And not just the hands, but also, the cups and pots and copper vessels and the dining couches and the… You get the idea.

t.s.: These disciples of Jesus aren’t practicing religious requirements like they should…Jesus why do you let that go on?

II.    Jesus Responds to the Pharisees hypocrisy with Scripture references and examples (6-13).

exp.: rd v 6a; And he said to them… I wonder if there was a pause before he spoke. I wonder if he was quiet first. The words he is using seem to me to be something you would say rather quickly and loudly. Rd v 6-7; Jesus quotes from Isaiah.

Just a side note here: Isaiah is quoted more than any other prophet in the OT. Furthermore, we’ll be studying Isaiah in the Fall at WEBS.

I think two points are to be made by Jesus when quoting Isaiah.;

  1. These people were simply giving lip service to God. Their hearts were not in their worship.
  2. They had elevated their traditions to the level of the commands of God. Or worse, above God’s commands.

He tells them straight out in v 8; You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” We’ll see these same two points being made in v9-13; rd 9-13; Here we see the 5th commandment and the punishment for those who do not keep it. However, Jesus blatantly accuses the religious leaders of lining their pockets, so to speak, at the expense of honoring parents. These leaders would ‘nullify’ the Word of God with the hopes of gaining whatever had been dedicated.

app.: talk about hardened hearts! Jesus was revealing the hearts of these Pharisees and Religious leaders. Their hearts were indeed far from God.

Before we leave this section, I’d like to show you something. From where, specifically, is Jesus quoting? Isaiah 29.13; read Isaiah 29.13-16a;

t.s: So these religious leaders have gotten more than they bargained for! They’re offended and so they confront Jesus. Now, Jesus turns to the people and teaches them with a parable.

III.    Jesus uses this confrontation as a teaching moment to show his disciples the principles that characterize the heart of God (14-23).

exp.: rd v 14-15; Ok, so we’ve got a problem now; How can Jesus wipe away the law in just one statement like that? Isn’t he doing the same thing he is accusing the Pharisees of doing? The Disciples must think so because they don’t get it. They’re without understanding. Look at v 17-19; there is a principle here that is being overlooked; common, holy, clean – this is a matter of the heart. The Law taught us these things. God instituted these laws and requirements to distinguish himself as separated from them. And, he did the same for them to distinguish between them (the Jews) and the Gentiles. They were distinguished, different, holy. He made them clean and so different from the unclean – the Gentiles.

Jesus is saying to them that they’ve missed it! rd v 20-23;

app.: I read this part of the story and I wonder how many of these traits or characteristics mark the Pharisees in their actions to line their pockets and rob from the elderly who are now neglected by their own children.

This, of course, is easy to do when applying it to others. But, I think the goal is really to read this and think of myself! – Apply it to myself!

Conclusion:

Ill.: Ticket for not having a plug in my shotgun.

app.: The Truth is: We’re all lawbreakers. And we all need someone to intercede for us. That’s what Jesus did. The penalty for our sin is death – and he paid that debt for us when he died on the cross. Some people trust in their traditions to save them. Jesus is teaching us here that that can never happen.

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