Sunday July 30th
Q & A Sunday
Question: Does Matthew 18:15 only apply to Saved brothers and sisters??
Question: How far does one take ......the scripture 1 Peter4:8, Love Covers a Multitude of Sins".... meaning at which point , when someone you love is in repeated sin, do you continue to COVER......or the line is crossed.....and you must UNCOVER IT, BRING IT OUT INTO THE OPEN.
Question: Since we know that when we are saved, the Holy Spirit comes in and our bodies are now His house, then how does the scripture verse Matthew 12:44.....apply? Meaning, when the scripture says,"if it comes back and finds it unoccupied", so, if a person is saved, then how can we say a house is "unoccupied" if the Holy Spirit dwells there?
Question: Are these four gardens in the bible related to God’s plan for us?
Question: Explain Romans 11:30-32, especially verse 32. Has God “committed” us to disobedience?
Question: Before deciding whether to eat the forbidden fruit, what other decisions did Adam have to make?
Question: Where is it found in the bible the laying on of hands and praying in tongues which causes a believer to fall down in the spirit with holy laughter?
Question: In Colossians 1:24 Paul says that he is finishing the work of the afflictions of Christ, but in Colossians 2:9-10 he says we are complete in Him. And on the cross Jesus’ own words were “IT is finished”. What could it be that Paul is making up for Jesus? What was lacking?
Question: Did cave men come before civilized man (Adam and Eve)?
Question: Were there two demoniacs at Gadarenes or only one?
Sunday July 23rd
A man was driving through a small town in the South, when he got pulled over by a redneck deputy. The deputy approached the window of the man’s car and asked,
“Do you know how fast y’all were going?”
The man responded, “I actually don’t have a clue and I really don’t care!”
The deputy looked the man in the eyes and said “What the heck did you just say to me?”
The man quickly apologized, saying “I’m sorry officer, but you see it’s Lent and I’ve been fasting all week. It’s a part of my religion and all this fasting has me on edge.”
The deputy wrote the man a ticket and looked down at him, saying “The first thing is, your religion don’t give you the right to disregard the law, and number two, around here it ain’t called fastin. It’s called speedin.”
I don’t know if you realize this or not, but Jesus was from a little hick town called Nazareth. Nazareth was so backwoods that when Phillip told Nathanael that they had met the Messiah and he was from Nazareth, “Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”
Here in Mark chapter 6 Jesus returns to Nazareth:
Jesus went out from there and came into His hometown; and His disciples followed Him. 2 When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him. 4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.” 5 And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And He wondered at their unbelief.
So welcome home Jesus! The people of Nazareth had a hard time seeing Jesus as anything other than a local carpenter who grew up in their small town. They can’t comprehend how Jesus could be teaching such “wisdom” and working miracles if he is only a common construction worker without any religious training or credentials.
This group of skeptics actually included people from Jesus’ own family. We saw this in Mark 3:21 “And He came home, and the crowd gathered again, to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal. When His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, “He has lost His senses.”
That’s another way of saying “he’s out of his mind” or “he has lost his marbles”!
In verse 4 Jesus sums up the situation with this phrase: “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.”
Some of you might have experienced a similar thing, where people in your family or friends from your past can’t acknowledge the “born again” person that you are, because they knew the “old” you. At least you can take comfort in the fact that they did the same thing to Jesus!
When verse 5 says that “He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them” this is not necessarily an indication that Jesus’ power was somehow weakened by their unbelief.
It may simply reveal that these unbelieving neighbors didn’t even bother to ask Jesus to heal them.
After having such limited success in Nazareth, Jesus and his disciples went back out onto the road starting in the second part of verse 6:
And He was going around the villages teaching.
7 And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits; 8 and He instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a mere staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belt— 9 but to wear sandals; and He added, “Do not put on two tunics.” 10 And He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave town. 11 Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them.” 12 They went out and preached that men should repent. 13 And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them.
So the Twelve disciples are about to become the twelve apostles. Why do I say that? Because when it says that Jesus began to “send them out”, that verb “send” has the same root word as the noun apostle, which means “ones who are sent”. Disciples are followers, but apostles are followers who get sent out to do the master’s work.
We might also notice that Jesus specifically sent them out “two by two”. There is a biblical principle that any true testimony must be established by at least two witnesses and this principle was also applied to missionary activity. The early church continued to follow this principle in the ministry pairs of Peter and John, Paul and Barnabas, Paul and Silas, and Paul and Timothy – always two by two.
In verse 8 Jesus tells them to take no bread and no money, which was his way of making them completely dependent on God for their provision and for their power.
Jesus knew that godly people would receive these apostles into their homes and feed them, but that if some of the people rejected them, they should just “shake off the dust” of that rejection. This was a practice that these disciples would have been familiar with, because Jewish people always shook the dust off their feet after traveling through pagan areas, so that the ungodly pagan influence would not affect them or stick with them.
We don’t have to follow that practice literally, but we can still “shake the dust off” of our hearts when we face rejection from unbelievers for trying to spread the gospel.
And speaking of how to handle unbelieving pagans, Israel’s supposed king was nothing more than a pagan puppet-ruler who had been put in place to rule over them by their Roman conquerors.
His name was King Herod, and we meet him in verse 14:
14 And King Herod heard of it, for His name had become well known; and people were saying, “John the Baptist has risen from the dead, and that is why these miraculous powers are at work in Him.” 15 But others were saying, “He is Elijah.” And others were saying, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he kept saying, “John, whom I beheaded, has risen!”
Apparently there was a lot of talk among the people about who Jesus really was. In Mark 8:27-28 we see this:
Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”
28 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
So Herod was hearing these same rumors, but one rumor in particular had him very freaked out – the one about Jesus possibly being John the Baptist raised from the dead. Why did this idea in particular cause Herod to worry? Because he was the one who had John the Baptist killed!
This is how it all happened, starting in verse 17:
17 For Herod himself had sent and had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, because he had married her. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death and could not do so; 20 for Herod was afraid of John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. And when he heard him, he was very perplexed; but he used to enjoy listening to him.
This King Herod’s name was Herod Antipas.
He was the son of Herod the Great, the one who killed all of the baby boys in Bethlehem after the birth of Jesus. In these verses we will find out how sinful Herod the son really was.
This was a case of –“like father, like son”! The dad killed the babies – the son killed John the Baptist.
A key player in this soap opera is Herodias, who was actually Herod’s brother Philip’s wife. Herodias was also Philip’s niece, in case you thought this family couldn’t get any weirder! After she married her Uncle Philip, Herodias left him to start an adulterous relationship with Philip’s brother, her uncle Herod Antipas. This was exactly the kind of immoral living that John the Baptist was preaching against, and John didn’t really care that Herod was the king. He still declared that what Herod and Herodias were doing was wrong in God’s eyes.
Herod didn’t seem to pay much attention to John, but Herodias was ticked! She forced Herod to arrest John.
But even after John was arrested, Herod didn’t plan to do John any harm. In fact, verse 20 says that “Herod was afraid of John…but he used to enjoy listening to him.”
Herodias, on the other hand, found nothing about John that she liked. Her anger wouldn’t be satisfied until John was dead. So she hatched an evil plan with the help of her equally wicked daughter:
21 A strategic day came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his lords and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee; 22 and when the daughter of Herodias herself came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you want and I will give it to you.” 23 And he swore to her, “Whatever you ask of me, I will give it to you; up to half of my kingdom.”
I think we can safely assume that this banquet had plenty of wine flowing and that Herod, the birthday boy, was probably already pretty drunk by the time Salome, Herodias’ daughter, performed her dance. While the guests were clapping, Herod, wanting some of that attention for himself, makes this bold promise to give Salome whatever she wants as a reward for such a wonderful performance. He says that he will give her up to half of what he owns. It’s now up to her to tell him what she wants. But it’s not what Herod was expecting:
24 And she went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” 25 Immediately she came in a hurry to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And although the king was very sorry, yet because of his oaths and because of his dinner guests, he was unwilling to refuse her. 27 Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded him to bring back his head. And he went and had him beheaded in the prison, 28 and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard about this, they came and took away his body and laid it in a tomb.
How’s that for a gruesome way to spoil a birthday party? The moral of the story from Herod’s perspective is this – don’t make foolish promises – you may end up having to keep them!
Around this same time, the disciples returned from their first evangelistic mission:
30 The apostles gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. 31 And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) 32 They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves.
When the 12 apostles returned, Jesus had them take some time to rest. Perhaps he was more aware than they were that most of them would eventually be martyred for their faith, like what had just happened to John the Baptist. Perhaps he also needed to remind them that what they just experienced was a result of God’s power, not theirs.
We get a more complete picture of the importance of this lesson when we compare the sending out of the original twelve with the sending out of the 70 in Luke chapter 10:
Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. 2 And He was saying to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. 3 Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no money belt, no bag, no shoes; and greet no one on the way. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.’ 6 If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house. 8 Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; 9 and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’10 But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’
We can see how similar those instructions were to the ones Jesus gave to the twelve when he sent them out – go two by two, take nothing for the journey. Let God provide for you, stay with nice people, and shake off the dust off of your feet when unbelieving people reject you.
Now let’s look at the conversation that happens when this group of 70 returns. This is from Luke 10:17-20
17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” 18 And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. 20 Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”
Just like the first twelve, these 70 “sent ones” are blown away by the power that they have experienced by using Jesus’ name to cast out demons and heal the sick.
Jesus tells them “Oh yeah, I watched Satan come crashing down while you were out there proclaiming the Kingdom of God! In fact, I’ve given you more power than you are even aware of yet – over ALL the power of the enemy!”
But notice what Jesus says next – “Don’t rejoice so much about the power that you’ve been given – rejoice over the fact that you have this power because your names are written in heaven’s Book of Life!”
The Message version puts verse 20 like this:
“The great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and presence with you. Not what you do for God but what God does for you—that’s the agenda for rejoicing.”
Let’s remember to rejoice this morning over the fact that God is doing a great work both In us and Through us!
Power Over The Demonic
In the story of the Demon-Possessed Man we witness the power Jesus has over the demonic. Instead of coming and attacking Jesus this man who lived amongst the tombs in the caves, in whom no man was strong enough to subdue, being described like a Werewolf, instead of trying to hurt Jesus bows before Him in worship.
In Christ we don't fear evil spirits for they are under our feet. We have been given all authority and power over the enemy. Satan was stripped of his authority when Jesus rose from the dead as it says in Colossians 2:15, "He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him."
So you have nothing to fear, go where God leads you, speak what God says to you, do what He tells you, for nobody can stop you.
This man was possessed by 6000 demons for the evil spirit told Jesus his name was legion which in the Roman military means a force of that number. Jesus simply commanded it to come out and they begged to not leave the country, which reveals the darkness in that region, when Jesus sent them into the 2 thousand pigs and the pigs jumped over the ledge and drowned it revealed to the people Satan's plan not to just torment but to destroy them.
The herdsmen now run off spreading what happened to everyone. A crowd gathered around Jesus and witnessing the possessed man perfectly sane were afraid. This shows how much darkness was in their own lives and how fearful they were to change. Instead of crying out for deliverance they were pleading to Jesus to leave. My question is what was wrong with them.
These people were full of greed the pigs were their gain and they had lost there means. They did not want to lose anything else. As we learned in the last chapter from the parable of the farmer scattering seeds their ground was that of thorns. As Jesus spoke in Matthew 16:26, "you can gain the whole world and lose your soul." Some people are so greedy that no matter the damage the enemy does they don't want to lose what they think is their own.
Accepting Jesus means surrendering all few are willing to make that kind of commitment.
It is the Werewolf like individual in this region alone that gets delivered and desires to follow Jesus. We can not judge anyone God loves to use the least like lies, the seemingly hardest to reach.
As the man begged to follow Jesus, He says no I want you to go tell your family. So the man goes to the ten near towns and proclaims what Jesus did to everyone and they were amazed.
Following Jesus does not mean we have to leave our home and country it just means we have to tell others wherever He places us the amazing things He has done.
The majority of religious leaders hated Jesus but here is one in verse 22 named Jairus who fell before Jesus pleading to him to heal his daughter.
We can learn from this that we are to never lump people together saying things like "you people," or "that's how they are." No, people are individuals and each one different and unique like no other. If we judge a group of people based on the experience of a few individuals that is discrimination.
This synagogue leader had faith, for he believed Jesus could heal his dying daughter by coming and laying His hands on her. As Jesus went with him a woman in the crowd whom had suffered greatly despite seeing many doctors, came behind Him and touched his robe and was healed of her infirmity.
No matter the issue, no matter how shameful it is, even if we can tell no one, Jesus is saying just reach out to me and you can be healed. We are now the body of Christ, the power to heal people like this woman is in us. God gave us power for it to flow out of us. What good would a power plant be without electricity coming from it into the community?
We should feel well spent each day because of the power being released through our lives in ministry. If we are walking in power people will hear about it. People who have kept their shame hidden from others will come to us for help. We are to be an object that people put their faith towards God in. What an awesome privilege to bring peace and release people from great suffering through the power of God within us.
As Jesus continued messengers came and told Jairus it is to late your daughter is dead. Jesus said to Jairus "Don't be afraid. Just have faith."
No matter the news if Jesus has spoken to us we can count on it no matter the odds. Our God is supernatural, there is nothing He can not do, all things are now possible, all we have to do is believe.
Jesus went to the home and after telling the crowd that "the child isn't dead; she's only asleep," they laughed at him.
We cannot be moved by unbelievers and mockers, we must be moved by faith and faith alone even without the support of others.
Jesus went to this twelve year old girl and said "little girl, get up!"
Today no matter what you are facing all you need is a Word from God. God's Word is above any other word or label or infirmity that has been placed on or in you. So in Jesus name be healed, be free, be loosed from whatever has held you down.
Sunday July 9th
A Russian, an American, and a Blonde were all talking one day, and a little competitive bragging started.
The Russian said, ‘We were the first ones to put a man in space!”
The American said, “Yeah, but we were the first ones to put a man on the moon!”
The Blonde said, “So what? We’re going to be the first ones to land on the sun!”
The Russian and the American looked at each other and shook their heads in disbelief.
“You can’t land on the sun! You’ll burn up!” said the Russian with a laugh.
To which the Blonde replied, “We’re not actually that dumb, you know. We’re planning to go at night!”
In Mark chapter 4 we’re going to see how Jesus uses the natural world to reflect the supernatural. As we look at each example I want to encourage you to ask yourself, “What truth is Jesus trying to show me through this parable?”
Jesus starts out this teaching down by the sea, but he uses a parable that’s about farming rather than fishing:
He began to teach again by the sea. And such a very large crowd gathered to Him that He got into a boat in the sea and sat down; and the whole crowd was by the sea on the land. 2 And He was teaching them many things in parables, and was saying to them in His teaching, 3 “Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4 as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. 6 And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. 8 Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” 9 And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Verse 2 says “He was teaching them many things in parables”. But notice that he just lays out the parable and then says “If you’ve got ears, you should be able to hear what I just said.” He doesn’t explain it, and in fact even the disciples don’t really understand it. Because in verse ten they ask Jesus why he is teaching in such a confusing way:
10 As soon as He was alone, His followers, along with the twelve, began asking Him about the parables. 11 And He was saying to them, “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables, 12 so that while seeing, they may see and not perceive, and while hearing, they may hear and not understand, otherwise they might return and be forgiven.”
The Apostle Paul calls the gospel “the mystery of Christ” in Ephesians 3:4 and Colossians 4:3. Here, Jesus says that the “mystery of the kingdom of God” is being revealed only to the disciples, but just “parables” are being told to “those who are outside.” If these outsiders are willing to examine the parable, they will find the answer to the mystery is actually Jesus himself.
One commentary points out that part of the “mystery” of the parable of the Sower of the Seed is that the coming of God’s kingdom is identified as a fragile seed, not a powerful conquering army.
Jesus then unfolds the full meaning of the parable for the sake of the disciples:
13 And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them. 16 In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; 17 and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, 19 but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 20 And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”
Keep in mind that in first-century Israel, sowing seeds across the ground was done first, then plowing, kind of the opposite of modern farming. So paths along the way, as well as rocky and thorny areas, all had seed spread on them and then plowed into them. It was not a very efficient system to say the least. In this parable, only one seed out of four bears fruit.
The first group of “hearers of the gospel” that Jesus describes are folks who have hardened hearts due to being beaten down by life, the same way that a path is made by many feet beating down the ground.
This group might seem to respond to the gospel in a moment of emotionalism. But when they go home and that emotional moment has passed, there is no change in their lives. The devil has swept in and taken the seed of faith away from their hearts before it could take root.
The next seed falls on stony or rocky ground.
But, as verse 17 says, “they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.”
Part of what contributes to this tragedy is that people are sold a false gospel that emphasizes only prosperity and blessings but ignores trials and suffering. I don’t know about you but I find that being a Christian is pretty hard sometimes. If you were told that life as a follower of Christ is just a bowl of cherries, then it’s no surprise that you might drop out of being a disciple when things get harder than you expected.
The seeds that are “sown among thorns” are the ones who have the gospel “choked out of their lives by “the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things”.
Jesus says that these people will end up bearing no fruit. They are more interested in themselves and their own lives than they are about the gospel. One pastor identified this group as the ones who are “always are offended at something or another and they think that their point of view is the only one that matters.”
Thankfully we also have the last group – the seed that falls on good soil.
These are the ones who simply say “yes I will follow you” to the Lord with no requirements. These are the ones in whose hearts the seed of the Word of God brings forth abundant fruit and consistent growth.
As soon as Jesus finishes explaining this first parable, he begins another one:
21 And He was saying to them, “A lamp is not brought to be put under a basket, is it, or under a bed? Is it not brought to be put on the lampstand? 22 For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” 24 And He was saying to them, “Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure it will be measured to you; and more will be given you besides. 25 For whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.”
This parable is pretty simple. What does a lamp do? It removes the darkness. It reveals what was hidden by the darkness. And we know that God’s word is our source of light.
Psalm 119:105 says “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
Obviously, when a person lights a lamp the purpose is to give as much light as possible.
Lighting a lamp and then hiding it really doesn’t make much sense. But then again, neither does becoming a Christian and then keeping it a secret!
In Matthew 5:16 Jesus says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Then Jesus switches back to another parable about seed and soil:
26 And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; 27 and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows—how, he himself does not know. 28 The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. 29 But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
I’m pretty sure that what Jesus is teaching us here is that our role in spreading the gospel is to simply spread the seed, and then let the Holy Spirit do His work in people’s hearts, and then to help God to bring in the harvest. After the farmer puts the seed into the ground, the miracle of actual plant growth is done by God himself. The farmer helps at the beginning and then depends on God to create life from tiny seeds. Then the farmer reaps the harvest.
So, as Jesus’ disciples, what are we to do? We are to plant seeds, to go and tell everyone we know about Him. Tell them that He Is the Son of God and that He came to earth and paid the ultimate price to redeem us from our sins.
In Romans 10:13-15 we hear this same command from the apostle Paul, “For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!”
Verses 30-32 of Mark 4 present one more parable about a very specific kind of seed:
30 And He said, “How shall we picture the kingdom of God, or by what parable shall we present it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the soil, though it is smaller than all the seeds that are upon the soil, 32 yet when it is sown, it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and forms large branches; so that the birds of the air can nest under its shade.”
Now there are two specific examples here from nature that Jesus points out - the ‘branches’ and the ‘birds’
Jesus says that the birds will nest under the Mustard tree branches for shade.
So, what does that mean for us?
Essentially, I think Jesus was pointing out how fast and how large the church would grow from its very small beginnings, and how many people from all over the world (the “birds”) would find great peace under its “branches”.
After the simple beginning of the church with just a handful of disciples, there were about 5 million believers in the Jesus Christ around the year 100 AD. By 2010 there were 2.2 BILLION believers worldwide. That’s some pretty rapid growth!
So basically Praise Tabernacle is one of the “branches” and you are one of the “birds”!
That is the last parable recorded in this chapter, but it is not the last lesson. The final thing the disciples would learn this day would come from a storm, not a story!
33 With many such parables He was speaking the word to them, so far as they were able to hear it; 34 and He did not speak to them without a parable; but He was explaining everything privately to His own disciples.
35 On that day, when evening came, He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. 37 And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. 38 Jesus Himself 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?” 39 And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. 40 And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”
The Sea of Galilee sits about 700 feet below sea level. At its southern end is a deep valley. The wind that comes blowing through this valley can churn up the lake into a violent storm.
Remember that most of these disciples were experienced fishermen. They had lived their lives around this particular sea and had certainly experienced being out there in all kinds of weather. For them to be afraid, this must’ve been one heck of a storm!
But Jesus says to them, ‘Why are you afraid, where is your faith?’
Well then you might ask, given the extreme nature of this particular storm, why did Jesus chastise them regarding their lack of faith?
I think it’s because of this one fact. He had already told them before they left the shore that they were going to the other side of the lake. It really doesn’t matter what storms or road blocks that the enemy tries to throw in our paths. If Jesus says that we are going to the other side, then we will make it to the other side!
In verse 39 when Jesus tells the storm to “Be still!” the expression he uses literally means “be muzzled.” Jesus has total authority over all heaven and earth, and here he demonstrates His authority over nature. If the storm is big, Jesus is bigger!
The disciples are blown away by this display of his power, and they ask each other “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”
But of course, they should have known that the Son of God would have such power. The Old Testament had already taught them that nature is under God’s command, with scriptures such as:
Psalm 8:9 “You rule the raging of the sea; When its waves rise, You still them.”
Psalm 65:6-7, “Who established the mountains by His strength, being clothed with power; You who still the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the peoples.”
The problem that the disciples had can end up being the same problem that we have. We know what the Bible says, and we know that God’s Word is true, but when things start to get a little rough, we start to wonder if our God is really up to the task – if His grace really is sufficient.
To help you understand what we are dealing with, let me share with you this little story from the Chinese Christian writer Watchman Nee.
He told a story about a group of young Christian men who went swimming in a creek. Most of them were not good swimmers so they were careful to remain close to the banks so as not to get in water over their heads.
One of the brothers went out a little too far and began to struggle in the deep water. Realizing his predicament he cried out to the others, who were now out of the water and drying off. "Help! Save me!" he yelled, while thrashing his arms and legs in a futile attempt to keep his head above water.
Only one of the men was experienced enough at swimming to provide assistance, but strangely enough, the only possible rescuer calmly watched the man struggle but made no move to save him. "Why don't you do something?" the other men all screamed in unison.
But the man just stood there apparently unconcerned.
After a few moments the drowning man could stay afloat no more. His arms and legs grew tired and he began to sink underwater. Finally the slow-moving rescuer dove into the water. With a few quick strokes he reached the victim and pulled him to safety.
Watchman Nee finally asked the man "How could you stand by for so long and watch your brother drowning, ignoring his cries for help and prolonging his suffering?"
But the man calmly explained. "If I had jumped in right away and tried to save the man, he would have clung to me in panic and pulled me under with him. In order to be saved, he had to first come to the end of himself, and cease struggling. He had to stop trying to save himself. Only then could he be helped."
If you think you can calm your own storm, then you won’t be looking for Jesus to save you. The sooner you turn to Jesus to rebuke the storm for you, the better off you will be.
He will get you to the other side of the journey that He has sent you on. If there are storms along the way, He will muzzle them.
Don’t be afraid. Your captain is in the boat with you.