What You Have Forgotten Today He Can Supply

The Gospel of Mark records two miraculous feedings of multitudes.  The first was mainly a Jewish crowd of about 5,000 in Mark 6:30-44; the second was a mainly Gentile group of about 4,000 in Mark 8:1-9.  These two stories are very well known, but if you read on Mark adds this about Jesus’ disciples in 8:14 – “Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.

On this verse Warren Wiersbe remarks: “It must have grieved Jesus that His hand-picked helpers were so spiritually obtuse. The fact that He had multiplied bread on two occasions and fed over ten thousand people had apparently made little impression on them! Why worry and argue over one loaf of bread when you have Jesus in the boat with you?”[1]

When well-known Bible stories have little impact on us, remember that these disciples knew the story even better than we do – they were there!  Jesus did not give up on them and will not give up on us.

Have you forgotten to trust Jesus with something today?  He desires to be “in the boat with you” in constant fellowship.  Ask Him to take your anxiety and to supply your daily bread.  He never forgets.

[1] Wiersbe, Warren.  Be Diligent (Mark) (1987).  P. 97.

The Transfiguration: A Preview of Glory and Delight

Yesterday I posted about Psalm 36:8, where David thanks God that His people may “drink from the river of your delights.”   Since the word for “delights” is the plural of Eden, these occasional sips God provides us point to a past and future paradise.  These delights strengthen our hope of heaven and strengthen us to live in this world for Him.  Jesus provided such a moment for His disciples in the event known as the Transfiguration, when Jesus took His disciples Peter, James, and John up a mountain for a vision of His future glory.  Matthew records in his gospel that Jesus “was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.”[1]

Moses and Elijah also appeared and spoke with Jesus, perhaps representing the law and the prophets of the Old Testament and how it all pointed to Jesus.  Peter wanted to make this moment last, and offered to “make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.[2]  But it was not intended to last long, yet.

The Transfiguration was a preview of heaven, a sneak peek into what eternity will be like, a promise of future blessing under Jesus, the glorified King.  The fulfillment of everything the law and prophets hinted at will be realized.  However, Moses and Elijah soon disappeared, Jesus and His disciples descended from the mountain, and the disciples very soon struggled as we all do, but they persevered as we also must. Pray that God will make eternity real to His people today, even if for only a moment, giving a “drink from the river of your delights” and strengthen us to live for Him.

[1] Matthew 17:2
[2] Matthew 17:4

Earth Day: If the Sun, Moon and Stars Could Speak

Day or night, we are here above you.  We speak a universal language understandable to all people, and we share our message with every part of the world.

But we aren’t really interested in talking about ourselves.

It is our pleasure and joy to serve our Maker for your benefit and His glory.  He has perfectly equipped us for our tasks.

One of your poets once said it this way:

The heavens declare the glory of God,
            and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
            and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
            whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
            and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
            and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
            and its circuit to the end of them,
            and there is nothing hidden from its heat.[1]

We were here before you were, but our Maker was here before us and will be here when we’re gone.  For you, He has us mark the days and seasons.  We give light for you to see, warmth for your comfort, and energy for your food to grow.

He asked us to tell you of His power and His love for you.  We are not here by accident, and neither are you.  Whoever you are, the sun rises for you and the rain falls in its time.  He ensures it.

The Apostle Paul says that God’s “invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.[2]

Today, rejoice in the regularity of the heavens, which declare to all people in all times and places that the eternal God cares about them.

[1] Psalm 19:1-6
[2] Romans 1:20

A Surprising Picture of Salvation

Yesterday’s post discussed the healing of a leper by Jesus in Mark 1:40-42, which says: “And a leper came to [Jesus], imploring him, and kneeling said to him, ‘If you will, you can make me clean.’  Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, ‘I will; be clean.’  And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.

However, the story continues in Mark 1:43-44 – “And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, and said to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.’

Jesus, while unconcerned that this leper was not following Levitical law to remain quarantined, He was concerned that he testify to the priests.  What might the priests learn from performing the cleansing rites for a recovered leper?  The procedure is detailed in Leviticus 14:1-20, which I’ve pulled from below:

if the case of leprous disease is healed in the leprous person, the priest shall command them to take for him who is to be cleansed two live clean birds and cedarwood and scarlet yarn and hyssop.  And the priest shall command them to kill one of the birds in an earthenware vessel over fresh water.  He shall take the live bird with the cedarwood and the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, and dip them and the live bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the fresh water.  And he shall sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed of the leprous disease. Then he shall pronounce him clean and shall let the living bird go into the open field…on the eighth day he shall take two male lambs without blemish…And he shall kill the lamb…The priest shall take some of the blood of the guilt offering, and…put it on the lobe of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. Then the priest shall take some of the log of oil and…shall put [it] on the lobe of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot, on top of the blood of the guilt offering…Thus the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be clean.”

While this probably seems confusing, Warren Wiersbe says that “Leviticus 14 presents a beautiful picture in type of the work of redemption.”  How?

Photo by hiva sharifi on Unsplash

“The two birds represent two different aspects of our Lord’s ministry: His incarnation and death (the bird put into the jar and then killed), and His resurrection and ascension (the bird stained with the blood and then set free). The blood was applied to the man’s right ear (God’s Word), right thumb (God’s work), and right great toe (God’s walk). Then the oil was put on the blood, symbolizing the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit cannot come on human flesh until first the blood has been applied.”[1]

After Jesus was sacrificed on the cross, died, and then was raised from the dead, perhaps Leviticus 14 made more sense to the priests who cleansed the leper healed by Jesus.  Perhaps they saw a picture of their Savior.

[1] Wiersbe, Warren.  Be Diligent (Mark) (1987).  P. 28.

Compassion is More Than Skin Deep

Many miraculous healings are highlighted in the four gospel records of Jesus’ ministry, and many point to a greater miracle: that God, in His mercy and compassion, heals us of the sin that divides us from Him and each other.  Today’s post will focus on a miracle recorded in Mark 1:40-42, where Jesus heals a leper:

And a leper came to [Jesus], imploring him, and kneeling said to him, ‘If you will, you can make me clean.’  Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, ‘I will; be clean.’  And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.

There is more to this story that Mark didn’t write.  What’s missing?  Jesus pointing out that this leper is breaking Old Testament law. 

In Leviticus 13:45-46, Moses wrote that: “The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’  He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp.

Because the kind of leprosy referred to in Leviticus and Mark was highly contagious and possibly deadly, this weird ritual was required to prevent accidental transmission of disease, but this particular leper couldn’t stay away from Jesus, and because Jesus was surrounded by crowds, the leper was potentially putting others in danger.  Mark doesn’t write that Jesus was concerned about this.

But the leper wasn’t entirely at ease, doubting whether Jesus would condemn him as an outcast and lawbreaker, or heal him.  What he did not doubt was that Jesus was capable of healing him, as he said to Jesus: “If you will, you can make me clean.”  To this leper, it was a question of whether this religious leader would be willing to help him.  He probably spent a lot of time being told to go away because of his disease; to follow the Levitical law.  Perhaps even now, in modern times, some might be curious about God’s power, but see religious people as uncaring and unwilling to help someone who is so obviously diseased and sinful.  Perhaps they are uncaring because other people are so obviously diseased and sinful.

In Leviticus chapter 13 there are also rules about how to identify a leper, and it’s usually when the symptoms are “deeper than the skin.” (See Leviticus 13:3, 20, 25, and 30). From this phrase, Warren Wiersbe notes in his commentary on Mark chapter 1 how leprosy is an apt metaphor for sin: “Like sin, leprosy is deeper than the skin (Lev. 13:3); it spreads (Lev. 13:5–8); it defiles and isolates (Lev. 13:44–46) …Anyone who has never trusted the Savior is spiritually in worse shape than this man was physically.”[1]

Not only can diseases be more than skin deep, but inner sin can be more dangerous and contagious.  As Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount, murder is an outward manifestation of inner anger[2], and adultery is an outward manifestation of inner lust[3].  Sins “deeper than the skin” may be the most important sins because they are the root of the visible external sins.

Fortunately, like inner sin and like leprosy, God’s compassion is also more than skin deep.  In Mark 1:41, the phrase “moved with pity” is a translation of a Greek word that suggests not just a passing feeling or sentiment, but something you literally feel in your guts.  The Greek word appears only 12 times in the New Testament, and always referring to Jesus or God the Father.  You might say that Jesus’ compassion for the leper was so powerful that He felt the leper’s pain in his own gut and was compelled to help him.

Unconcerned about whether His actions would condone the leper’s disregard for the law, the compassion of Jesus compelled Him to heal not just the leper’s bodily disease but also his spiritual disease of sin.  As written in Luke 15:10 – “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Jesus had His priorities right.

May we be likewise “moved with pity” for the sick and lost!

[1] Wiersbe, Warren.  Be Diligent (Mark) (1987).  P. 28.
[2] Matthew 5:21-22
[3] Matthew 5:27-30