jump to navigation

Study of Mark: Mark 6:1-6a April 8, 2010

Posted by Warren in The Gospel of Mark.
add a comment

He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.”And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.
(Mark 6:1-6 ESV)

Jesus teaches in the synagogue in Nazareth. As usual, people are amazed at His teaching, and wonder at the authority He is showing that He has. But their reaction is different. “Who does he think he is? He’s from around here! We saw him grow up!” Some of the older women were probably thinking the ancient Hebrew equivalent of “I changed his diapers, and now HE thinks he’s going to teach ME this new stuff?”

And they weren’t proud of Him. In fact, they were mad. “Who do you think you are, to tell us this stuff? What do you think you are, God or something?” They wouldn’t hear Him.

I think it’s interesting that He didn’t do any miracles there. Nazareth would have been a perfect place to pull off a water-into-wine, or a feeding of 5,000. But the people there had no faith. They wouldn’t have been persuaded even if He had done those things. Their hearts had already been hardened, because they couldn’t get past who they thought Jesus was — the dirty-faced kid who they saw playing in the street. The teenager helping his dad build houses. The young adult, doing his own construction work. They couldn’t get past Jesus’ humanity, to see the divinity that was there.

People have this problem all the time. The Jesus Seminar has sold a LOT of books catering to people who cannot see the divine Christ because they are too focused on the human Jesus. Of course, the other extreme is just as bad — sometimes we look at the divine Christ so much that we miss the very human Jesus. The man who grew up with these people in Nazareth. The man who had probably built some of their homes. Who had grown up playing with some of them. These are the people Jesus the man cares about the most, and they totally reject Him and His message. It had to have broken His heart, to see these people reject Him.

Often, the hardest thing for us to do is to witness to unsaved relatives. They know us too well, and they know our faults and shortcomings. They remember the temper tantrums we used to throw when we didn’t get our own way. They remember the time we pulled the tablecloth off the picnic table full of food — and dumped hamburger all over everyone. They see our imperfections — and they can’t get past that to see the message we bring them. And when they don’t accept Christ, we feel like we are the ones they are rejecting.

But we cannot stop planting seeds. Some plant, some water, some harvest, and God grants the increase. Never stop planting seeds. Never stop watering other people’s seeds. Rejoice when you can harvest what someone else has planted, and rejoice when someone else harvests something that you planted. Because there’s no tote-board in heaven, to see who scores the most souls. There’s only one who brings people to Christ — God, who draws all men unto Christ. All we can do is be available for Him to use, and be faithful when we are called.

Advertisements

Study of Mark: Mark 5 April 6, 2010

Posted by Warren in The Gospel of Mark.
add a comment

I’m also not going to cut and paste the whole chapter. Go here and read it.

Jesus starts off the chapter by showing His sovereignty over demons by casting them out. The demoniac has been afflicted for some time, and has either left or been run out of the city. He lives among the tombs — caves, in other words. The Bible also makes sure we know just how strong this guy was — his shackles and chains had been broken many times before. Nobody wanted to mess with the guy.

The demons know exactly who Jesus is. Verse 7 — “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” The demons are begging for their survival — they are afraid that Christ has come to finally condemn Satan and his followers to the pit or all eternity. Christ knows that that time has not yet come. But He delivers the man from the demons.

I don’t know why He sent the demons into the swine. I DO know that this caused the people who owned the swine to be VERY upset at Him. Maybe these people were Jews who weren’t supposed to be tending pigs (unclean animals), and Christ was rebuking their rebellion. In any case, when word got around about what had happened, people came to check things out. I think their reaction is interesting. “… they were afraid. … And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region.” They didn’t know who this guy was, but they knew they didn’t want Him around. He was causing problems. He was making them re-evaluate the way things were.

That’s what Jesus does when He enters our lives. We have to re-evaluate things. Our priorities change. Our goals change. Even our speech may change. Our attitudes and outlook change. Christ challenges us to think the way He thinks. And many people don’t like that. They are afraid of changing the way they think. They don’t want to view the world the way Christ does — as sinful people in need of a Savior. They don’t want to feel what He felt as He looked over Jerusalem. They want to continue to pursue their own goals and dreams, and not subordinate them to Christ’s will. And they know that Christ requires them to do exactly that.

Unfortunately, many Christians don’t recognize that. We pray the prayer, walk the aisle. We get dunked. We sign a membership card. We go to Sunday School. And Christ never makes an impact on our lives at all. We are living with the form of Godliness, but we deny it’s power. Power over our world, but also it’s power over us. Our challenge is to live each day, more and more conformed to the image of Christ, and to see everything the way He sees it.

Study of Mark: Mark 4:35-41 April 2, 2010

Posted by Warren in The Gospel of Mark.
add a comment

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.”And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?”
(Mark 4:35-41 ESV)

After having taught the multitudes in parables, and having explained the parables to His disciples, Christ is ready for a time of rest, so He commands the disciples to go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. After He fell asleep, a storm comes up, and the disciples are upset, thinking He doesn’t care about them.

Don’t we tend to do that? Isn’t our first reaction when something goes wrong, or something bad happens, to get mad at God? “God, I’m TRYING to do this for You. Why aren’t you making it EASY FOR ME!!!??? Don’t You want this to get done? What’s up with all these problems? Don’t You love me anymore?” Instead of thinking about what God has in mind for us, we’re quick to get mad, and give up.

Jesus took care of the problem. He calmed the storm and the sea, just to show them that He could. God sometimes lets these things happen to us to show us that it is HIM, and not us, that is in control. He is trying to teach the disciples that they need to rely on Him. So He takes care of the problem, then rebukes their unbelief.

Waitaminuite. Unbelief? They ran to Him to fix things, didn’t they? Yes, but they ran to Him NOT to ask for His help, but to complain that they were in the situation to begin with. Several of the disciples were fishermen — they knew when a storm was possible, because their lives depended on it. They went out into the sea in obedience to Him, trusting that He’d not let something like this happen, and when it did, their faith was tested — and they failed the test. They didn’t believe that He was in control anymore. “Don’t you care that we’re GOING TO DIE??” is what they asked. They knew that they were going to die, and were mad that He put them in that situation. The storm came, and they lost faith.

Happens to us all the time. Sometimes the storm is big, sometimes it doesn’t take much. I can remember a time when I was driving back and forth to seminary, spending a good part of the week in Louisville. Had a hard time finding a place to stay — and I ended up spending a bunch of money that we really didn’t have on hotel rooms. I got mad at God — wondering why He’d led me that far from home, only to abandon me once I got there. Finally, I got on my face in my hotel room and asked Him for guidance, and admitted I had been wrong. Next day, I run into someone in my Theology class who lives not far from home (right across the river, in fact), who told me that there was commuter housing available for $10 a night. I had thought that they didn’t do that anymore at Southern. God had a plan for me — all I had to do was recognize that He was in control. Now I have a place to live. Little storm — but it sure seemed big when I was trying to figure out how we were going to pay for an apartment AND gas AND food AND everything else. This passage reminds me that God has everything under control.

Even after this storm on the sea, the disciples wondered who Jesus was, exactly. “What kind of man is this, that the very forces of nature obey Him?” They were starting to learn, though, that this wasn’t just an ordinary religious leader that they were following.

{slightly edited — I realized after I posted that this was originally written quite a while ago, and needed some revision}

Study of Mark: Mark 4:21-34 March 31, 2010

Posted by Warren in The Gospel of Mark.
add a comment

And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand?For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light.If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you.For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground.He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how.The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth,yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.
(Mark 4:21-34 ESV)

We’re continuing with Christ teaching his disciples through parables.

The first is that of a lamp, or candlestick. If you want to illuminate a room, do you hide it, or place it on a stand? Obviously, you place it on a stand. Christ’s teachings to the disciples, though, were often under a basket — he taught them secretly about many things. His point to this particular parable, I think, is that His mission was to 1. give Himself a sacrifice for us all, but 2. to train his disciples to spread the Good News of His kingdom. His teachings weren’t for everyone — that’s why he taught so often in parables. His mission could only be understood in the context of Calvary — before that time, people wouldn’t be able to understand what He was doing.

The second teaching really is not a parable — in fact, it’s an explanation to the parable of the talents. When God gives us much, He expects much from us. Christ is preparing the disciples for their roles in spreading the Gospel to the world. They have been given much — more than any other men in the world, for who can say that they learned at the feet of Jesus? Much will be required — their very lives, ultimately.

Christ then makes another allusion to planting and harvesting, but to make a different point. We sow the seed of the Gospel. After we sow, we see results. We don’t know why people are responding the way they are, and we don’t know why other people aren’t responding. it isn’t for us to know. We accept that God is sovereign, and that His plan is in place. We rejoice that we have a harvest, not that we didn’t get as many plants as we thought we would.

We then see the kingdom of God compared to a mustard seed. WHen planted, it seems small and insignificant — much like our efforts in sharing the Gospel. But when the plant matures, it can grow into a huge tree. We never know who we have influenced by our faithful proclaiming of the Gospel. We cannot stop doing it simply because we see no big results right away. We may never know what lives we have touched, so we must continue to be faithful in our work, trusting that God will grant the increase.

Parables are tough to study, because of the simple fact that they are not always clear in what they are saying. Hopefully, I have been able to faithfully explain some of these parables of Christ. I look forward to hearing from others, who have their own ideas.

Study of Mark: Mark 4:1-20 March 29, 2010

Posted by Warren in The Gospel of Mark.
add a comment

4:1Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. 2 And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3 â€œListen! A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. 6 And when the sun rose it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8 And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.â€� 9 And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.â€�
10 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that
“they may indeed see but not perceive,and may indeed hear but not understand,lest they should turn and be forgiven.�
13 And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.  18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.â€�

This is a BIG passage to study, but I’ve included Christ’s explanation of the parable, so I don’t have to comment there.  What I want to do is talk a little about Christ’s use of parables.

Sometimes we think that the purpose was to make things easier to understand.  But it’s clear from this passage that his parables were NOT easily understood by those who heard them.  In fact, it seems that Jesus is using parables so that people CAN’T understand Him.

The people who followed Him to see the miracles and to be healed couldn’t handle the implications of His being the Messiah.  They had an idea of the Messiah as a political hero, who was going to free Israel from the oppression of the Romans.  Christ didn’t want them to think He was going to do that — he wanted to make clear that His kingdom was not of this earth, and He was here for a totally different purpose.  The twelve He had chosen had been given understanding by God, so that they could see His role (and as we read in Acts, they STILL didn’t get it), so He taught them in a way that only they would be able to understand, or so that they would receive the explanation later on. 

The Holy Spirit has been given so that everyone might be able to believe — one of the purposes of the Holy Spirit is to help people to understand God’s message.  The religious leaders of Christ’s time couldn’t understand that message fully because they had closed their minds off to Him.  They had decided what Messiah was going to be, and they weren’t going to be persuaded otherwise.  This is what Jesus was talking about when He talked about new wine in old wineskins — the new message of the Gospel wouldn’t fit into the Jews’ existing religious program.  A new wineskin had to be made, and that is what Jesus was training His disciples to do.  Our mission now is to take that new wine to the world — and give them the new wineskins to hold it as well.

Study of Mark: Mark 3:31-35 March 28, 2010

Posted by Warren in The Gospel of Mark.
add a comment

And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?”And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
(Mark 3:31-35 ESV)

I’m not going to jump into the “They were his brothers/they were his cousins” debate here — I believe they were his brothers, and I don’t think it’s inconsistent to say Mary and Joseph had kids after Jesus. So there.

So Mary and Jesus’ brothers (some versions also add “and sisters” to that) came looking for Him. Mary probably heard that His siblings thought He was nuts, and was going to try to prove differently. Jesus’ reaction always used to bother me — it is almost a “Who? This is my family right here, not them!” And though it might have been appropriate for His brothers, I never thought that was fair for Mary. But I don’t think that was Christ’s point.

He was trying to show the importance of following Him. He wanted to say that as close as people are to their own families, that is how close He is to those who believe and follow Him.

We are the family of Christ. We who follow Him are His brothers and sisters, adopted by God, and joint heirs with Christ Himself (Romans 8:15, 17, 23, among others).

Study of Mark: Mark 3:22-30 March 27, 2010

Posted by Warren in The Gospel of Mark.
add a comment

22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” 23 And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.

28 “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

This is a tough passage. We don’t WANT there to be a sin that God won’t forgive. We don’t want to think that there is a line that cannot be crossed. Giving Satan credit for the work of God is over that line.

We tend to focus on the negative in this passage. Look at the positive — all sins will be forgiven, except that one. And to be honest, if anyone is giving Satan credit for the finished work of Christ, they aren’t even looking for a way out. They aren’t repentant.

No matter what you have done, no matter what sins you have committed, if you are searching for the forgiveness of Christ, you will find it. He has promised that.

This passage is another example of people wiling to believe anything about Jesus except the truth. He has been defeating demons, and they claim He is one. He points out that he has been damaging Satan’s work — why would He do that, if He was in league with the devil? He also points out the purpose of His early work — he is weakening Satan’s hold, so that He can deliver the crushing blow at Calvary. He is showing that He has the power to “bind the strong man”.

It’s easy to forget that Satan is defeated. He lost at Calvary, but he continues to deceive, convincing people that Christ wasn’t who He claimed to be. Our job is to show and tell — show the world that Christ lives within us, and tell them that He can live within them as well.

Study of Mark: Mark 3:20-22 March 25, 2010

Posted by Warren in The Gospel of Mark.
add a comment

Now Jesus went home, and a crowd gathered so that they were not able to eat. When his family heard this they went out to restrain him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
(Mark 3:20-22 NET)

After doing all the marvelous things that were mentioned before, Jesus goes home to Nazareth, to a warm reception from His family. They think he’s nuts.

Now, under normal circumstances, I could understand this. If I had a brother, and all the sudden he started running around tapping people on the head and forgiving their sins, I’d probably wonder about the state of his mental health. We have to consider, though, one important thing.

They’ve been living with Mary their whole lives. Mary has told them all about Jesus, and the angel’s visit, and the wise me and shepherds, and everything. She’s talked about when they found Jesus in the temple, and the things He said there. So they know the story. They know who Mary and Joseph say that Jesus is supposed to be. And they STILL think that their brother Jesus is crazy. They are ignoring the obvious truth of who Christ is, choosing to believe something much easier.

People did that a lot back then. Elsewhere, we learn that there were people who believed that Jesus was John the Baptist reincarnated (Matthew 16:14). Since many people saw Jesus baptized by John the Baptist, that coulsn’t possibly be true. They chose to believe that, though, rather than accept what He told them about who He was.

People still do that today. Jesus seems to be whatever the latest scholar thinks He should be — everything from a rebel priest to a social reformer to a revolutionary leader. We tend to see Jesus as who we want Him to be, rather than who He really is. This is a result of modern scholarship deciding that there are no absolutes when it comes to the Biblical texts — since they aren’t inspired by God, we can pick and choose which passages we want to believe. If we find other texts that talk about Jesus that we like better, then we can believe in those, too. Pretty soon, we have our own, personal Jesus, who doesn’t make us stop doing what we want to do, who just sits there and tells us what great people we are, and never requires anything from us as far as worship or devotion.

We are a people driven by convenience. We want to believe in God, but we don’t want all the “baggage”. We don’t want to have to obey anyone, to follow anything resembling commandments, and don’t you DARE tell us that our way might not be right.

Jesus was telling people the same thing. He was saying that the things that the Pharisees had been teaching them weren’t the right path to God. He was teaching them things about the Messiah that they hadn’t been taught. And when they asked who He was to teach them things like that, what authority did He have — He showed them. Who has the kind of authority that Jesus showed over sickness? Who has the authority that He claimed when He forgave sin? Only God — and the Jewish leaders knew that. They had two choices — believe that He was who He said He was, and have to change centuries of beliefs, or they could believe that He was wrong, that He was guilty of blasphemy and had to be stoned. They chose the latter.

We need to think about what Jesus we believe in. Our own, personal, be whatever we want Him to be and never inconvenience us Jesus? Or the Messiah, the Son of God, the Word who, in the beginning, was with God and was God, by whom all things were created?

Study of Mark: Mark 3:13-19 March 24, 2010

Posted by Warren in The Gospel of Mark.
add a comment

And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons. He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
(Mark 3:13-19 ESV)

The Calling of the Twelve. That’s how it’s listed in just about every Bible I own. It’s one of the major moments in the history of Christianity — the men who were to be the closest followers of Christ are chosen and listed for us. It’s interesting that they are almost always listed in this exact order — almost a pecking order, showing how important or famous each disciple was.

Peter, James, and John: The Big Three — those who were closest to Christ.The travel farther with Christ into Gethsemane than the rest. They are often shown to be fairly influential. Peter, who first confessed AND first denied Christ. James, one of the first called to follow Christ, the leader of the church at Jerusalem. Along with his brother John, the disciple who would have attacked the Samaritans who did not honor Christ. John, who would be called the beloved disciple — the only one to die of natural causes. Both called Sons of Thunder for their zeal in turning to violence.

Andrew, the first evangelist, who brought (literally) his brother Simon Peter to Christ. He stays in the background through most of the New Testament — but without him things would have been vastly different. I can picture him listening to Peter preach, nudging a neighbor and whispering “That’s my brother — he knows what he’s talking about. I was there, too, when Jesus taught”. Philip, also responsible for bringing a friend (Bartholomew) to Christ, the thinker. He was more studied in Scripture than other disciples (see John 1:45). Bartholomew, also called Nathanael, who spent time with God under a fig tree, and encountered Christ. Matthew, a tax collector who nobody would ever expect to be following the Messiah, but who was worthy to write a Gospel. Thomas, the doubter, who went on to greater things for Christ. James the Lesser, possibly Matthew’s brother, who was martyred for his faith. Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot — two disciples of whom little is known outside of legend.

And Judas, the betrayer. Always last, always least in the lists.

Looking at the character of these men, we can see Christ picked men not for their ability, but their attitude. They were willing to be used. They were also very fallible. Only one was present at the crucifixion. One refused to believe the testimony that Christ had risen. All were terrified men, hiding in a borrowed room from the soldiers who were surely looking for them, on the first Ressurection Day. And all who, through the power of the Holy Spirit, were to turn the entire world upside down. We wonder sometimes why these men Christ picked were so petty at times — as when James and John request to have the seat at Christ’s right hand when He established His kingdom. Why use someone such as Peter, who swore to defend Christ to his last breath, but who denied he knew Christ before his master was even dead? Why use Thomas, who refused to believe anything but the testimony of his own eyes? And why pick Judas, when surely Christ in His omniscience knew that he would be the one to betray Him?

Christ uses imperfect vessels, so that the glory does not go to the vessel, but to Him. We are incapable, but He makes us powerful — powerful in ways that are clearly His ways, not ours. If we learn nothing else from this passage, we can learn that Christ uses us, cracks and flaws intact, so that we can give the honor and glory to Him, and Him alone.

Study of Mark: Mark 3:6-12 March 23, 2010

Posted by Warren in The Gospel of Mark.
add a comment

Mark 3:7-12 ESV Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea (8) and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. (9) And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, (10) for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. (11) And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” (12) And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.

Jesus knows what the Pharisees planned, and He knew that it wasn’t His time yet, so He left. As usual, a crowd gathers, anxious to see miracles performed. And once again, He cautions unclean spirits to not make Him known.

As we will see later in the chapter, the thing Jesus thought would happen did. The Pharisees accused Him of being a tool of the devil. I think, though, that that is only one reason He wanted the secrecy at this point.

Jews at the time of Christ were not able to understand His mission. They were waiting for a conquering Messiah, who would overthrow the Romans and free Israel from tyranny. Even the disciples thought He was going to set up His kingdom right then and there — even after the resurrection, they were wondering when He was going to establish the Kingdom. They didn’t understand the idea of a suffering Messiah.

Christ took the next three years to explain things to them. He tried through parable, through example, through straight-out preaching and teaching, to get them to understand the nature of the Kingdom of God.

2000 years later, and we still don’t quite understand it. Books are written about it, theologians argue about when, where, and how it will be established. The only thing we can agree on is that it will happen. And the best lesson we can learn from this is that we can’t understand it all.

We’re never going to totally understand everything about God. We can believe in Him, we can love Him, we can worship Him, we can study His Word and learn as much as we can about Him, but only in Heaven are we actually going to fully understand God.