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JESUS AGAIN REJECTED AT NAZARETH
Matthew 13:54-58 , & Mark 6:1-6 . “He went out from thence, and came into His own country [i.e., He went from Capernaum to Nazareth]; and His disciples follow Him; and it being the Sabbath, He began to teach in the synagogue; and many, hearing, were astonished, saying, Whence are these things to Him? and what wisdom is given to Him? Such miracles are performed by His hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary? Is He not the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us? And they became offended in Him. And Jesus said to them, A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his relatives, and in his own house. And He was not able to do any miracle there, except, laying His hands on a few sick people, He healed them. And He was astonished on account of their unbelief.” Matthew says, “He did not many miracles there on account of their unbelief.” You remember, early in our Lord’s ministry, when He first returned to Nazareth, after receiving the Holy Ghost at the Jordan, and the celestial fire flashing from His eyes, radiating from His countenance, and flaming along His words, interpenetrated the deep-seated carnality in the subterranean chambers of their fallen spirits, burning them intolerably; so they not only reject the truth, but determine to kill the Preacher, superinducing the necessity on His part to turn over humanity to the Divinity or become a martyr at that early day. Now that eighteen months have rolled away, and His mighty works and stupendous revelations have not only filled all Galilee and Judea, but aroused the heathen world from the slumber of four thousand years, turning on Him all eyes; again, actuated by the deep and unutterable love of His native land where He spent nine-tenths of His earthly life, He comes back, and gives them another chance, only to meet such a rebuff and rejection that He never more came back, but left them to settle the matter at the judgment-bar. While they long listened to the wonderful wisdom which flows spontaneously from His mouth, and remember His mighty works at Capernaum, only forty miles distant, and the resurrection of the widow’s son at Nain, only five miles from their own city; while they were astonished, electrified, and even delighted, they can not survive the remembrance, “This is no one but that young carpenter, reared in our midst; the son of a poor mechanic, without education or any extraordinary opportunities; the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon, whom we know so well; and His sisters are living here with us this day.” What was the consequence? They could not brook these facts. And so “they were offended in Him;” i.e., they went back on Him, and could not acquiesce in the conclusion that He is a mighty prophet, sent down from heaven. N.B. He said He “could not do any miracle at Nazareth on account of their unbelief,” involving the legitimate conclusion that human faith is a necessary condition of God’s mighty work, both in the healing of the body and the salvation of the soul. If He had wrought miracles at Nazareth, doubtless His old acquaintances would have believed on Him; and so it is throughout this wicked world, going at race-horse speed to the bottomless pit, but we can not reverse the Divine order. We must believe in order to receive the mighty works of the Omnipotent Christ in behalf of both soul and body. We should not forget our Savior’s maxim, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country.” For this reason we have “go” in the Commission, as well as “preach.” We dare not change the Commission, and stay at home. Myriads of holy men and women, called of God to preach the gospel and save souls, paralyze their energies and bury their talents by staying at home.
THIRD EVANGELISTIC TOUR
Matthew 9:35-36 ; Mark 6:6 . Matthew “And Jesus was a going round all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every ailment among the people.” Our Savior, now the third time, accompanied by the twelve apostles whom He had chosen, and the holy women who cooperated with their ministry, and not a few voluntary disciples, radiates out from Capernaum, traversing the whole country of Galilee, which included the tribes of Dan, Naphtali, Zebulun, and Issachar, preaching the gospel of the kingdom in all their villages and cities. Hence we see that Jesus was an evangelist of the most aggressive character, not only peregrinating the whole country, and preaching the gospel of spiritual salvation full and free, but indiscriminately healing the sick. “And seeing the multitudes, He was moved with compassion in their behalf, because they were fleeced and abandoned, as sheep having no shepherd.” N.B. These people were all members of the Jewish Church, gathering Sabbatically in their synagogues, which everywhere abounded, and enjoying the ministry of the scribes, their pastors, and the expositions of their cultured theologians (called “lawyers,” because they expounded the laws of Moses and the prophets). Now why does Jesus thus speak of those people, describing them as poor sheep having been sheared closely, and turned out of the fold to weather the storm and take chances with the wild beasts and robbers? The case is very plain. The word here, which I translate “fleeced,” is eskulmenoi, which also means “harassed, vexed, abused,” signifying the treatment which those people received at the hands of the ministry who had charge of them. And the other, errimmenoi, means “forsaken, abandoned, cast away.” Now, of course, these strong affirmations of our Lord have a spiritual signification, revealing the sad fact that these people were utterly destitute of competent spiritual guides.
Now do not forget that these were Jews, holding regular membership in the Church which God established, and enjoying all the privileges of the synagogue worship, with the living ministry faithfully serving them. What was the matter? Those preachers, with all their learning, were spiritually dead, ”the blind leading the blind,” laying heavy financial burdens on the people, and neglecting their souls, thus practically abandoning them for the devil. O how history repeats itself! We do not have to go back to the Judaic ages in order to find the Lord’s sheep “fleeced” and abandoned for the wolves to devour.
HE SENDS OUT THE TWELVE
Matthew 9:37-38 . “Then He says to His disciples, The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest, in order that He may send out the laborers into His harvest.” Our Lord, seeing the awful state of the Jewish Church, destitute of competent spiritual guides, going miserably into eternal ruin, and consequently calls on all of His disciples to unite in a prayer to God to send out more laborers into the harvest. This prayer ascends up to Heaven, and receives a speedy answer, so that, instead of a single evangelistic force, He determines to multiply seven-fold, sending out the twelve apostles, two by two, to scour the whole country of Galilee and Judea, moving with all possible expedition, and preaching the gospel in every city and village. O how inconceivably urgent a similar policy this day! N.B. The time has not yet arrived to unfurl the gospel banner to the Gentile world. Hence, all of this evangelistic movement was confined to the Jews; i.e., in the Churches, preaching in the synagogues, as well as to the multitudes in the open air.
Matthew 10:1-42 ; Mark 6:7-13 ; & Luke 9:1-6 . Matthew: “And calling His twelve disciples, He gave them power over unclean spirits, so as to cast them out, and heal every disease and every malady. Luke says, “He sent them forth to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” The kingdom of God, or kingdom of heaven, is the Divine government, which prevails among the angels and redeemed spirits throughout all celestial worlds; hell having none of it, and earth a mixture some, citizens of God’s kingdom; others, the denizens of Satan’s pandemonium.
Matthew “Jesus sent forth these twelve, commanding them, saying, Go not into way of the heathens nor enter ye into a city of the Samaritans; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” As the Jews were the organized Church of God, and the custodian’s of the Divine Oracles, God’s plan was first to give them the gospel, so they might turn evangelists, and carry it to the ends of the earth. For a similar reason, we should now begin with the Churches, and get all of them saved who will receive the living Word, and then go to the world. You see our Savior repeatedly mentions “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Do you not know that this included the rank and the of the ministry and membership? There were a few honorable exceptions, like Simeon, Anna, Zacharias, Elizabeth, and the apostles. The Divine economy originally contemplated the Jewish Church en masse receiving Christ, and enjoying the immortal honor of heralding Him to the world. This they missed, both preachers and people, except the elect few. In a similar manner, it is the glorious privilege of the whole Church to receive Christ at His second coming; but amid the sad apostasy of the latter days (2 Thessalonians 2:0), we see that only the elect few will enjoy this transcendent glory. “Going, preach, saying, That the kingdom of the heavens draweth nigh.” This was significantly true, because they were the heralds of the kingdom, enjoying citizenship in the same, and commending it to all others. “Heal the sick, raise the dead.” We have a number of instances, in the ministries of Paul and Peter, of healing the sick; and at Joppa, Peter actually raised Dorcas from the dead. Her tomb was pointed out to me when I was there a few days ago. “Cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” Paul at Philippi ejected the fortune-telling demon from a damsel. The genuine, regular work of the Holy Ghost in the gospel dispensation, saving and sanctifying souls, is constantly accompanied by demoniacal ejectment and bodily healing. “Possess neither gold nor silver, nor copper in your girdles;” i.e., do not wait and prodigalize God’s precious time and opportunity in order to get money of any kind, as God can feed and clothe you as well out in the evangelistic field as at home. Have faith in Him to feed you like the birds and clothe you like the lilies. “Nor valise, nor two coats, nor sandals, nor staff; for the laborer is worthy of his food.” Hence, you see, we are to wait for nothing, but go as we are, taking what we have, and trusting God for everything.
“Into whatsoever city or village you enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and abide there until you may depart.” This is not an interdiction of house-to- house preaching; but their time was short, and the work too great to admit of it. Hence they are commanded to find some place with God’s elect, and thence radiate out everywhere, preaching the Word, till they traverse the field. “And going into a house, salute it. And if the house may be worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it may be unworthy, let your peace return unto you.” Salvation is optionary, and never goes begging. God is infinitely rich, and can get along without any of us. “Whosoever may not receive you, nor hear your words, going out from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Truly, I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.” When we go to a people and offer them the gospel, we have done our part, and will be rewarded in eternity as if they had received it. When they reject our message, they relieve us, and assume the responsibility of their own damnation. Sodom and Gomorrah were Gentile cities, in the beautiful, rich, and productive Vale of Sidim, which were destroyed for their wickedness, the very site they occupied being now covered by the Dead Sea. These heathen cities never had the opportunities of the Jews and the Christians. Consequently the latter, who reject the gospel, will sustain a more grievous responsibility in the judgment-day, and sink to a more terrible doom in the world of woe, than the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, with all their dark vices.
“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” The serpent is the symbol of Satan, who has a wonderful intelligence, shrewdness, and cunning; while the dove is the symbol of the Holy Ghost, full of innocent, sweet, regenerating, and sanctifying love, and ready to pour it out into every penitent, believing heart. “Harmless” is akeraioi, from akeranumi, from a, “not,” keranumi, “to mix.” Hence the word means unmixed, the strongest statement of entire sanctification. Sinners are full of unmixed evil; holy, sanctified saints are full of unmixed good; while unsanctified Christians have a mixed experience, the pure love of God in a heart which is not free from depravity, but needs the second work of grace to eliminate it all away, leaving nothing but the pure love of God to fill the sanctified heart. We see from this commandment that, while we are to be innocent, holy, and faithful, trusting God for everything necessary to soul and body, we are still to carry with us the good, common sense with which we are born, and to utilize all the intelligence God gives us, “watching” lest we enter into temptation. Ministerial failures are constantly being made, simply because people do not use their common sense. “Beware of men; for they will deliver you up unto the Sanhedrins, and scourge you in their synagogues.” You see how they arrested, beat, and imprisoned Paul and Silas. “And you shall be led before governors and kings, for My name’s sake, for a testimony to them and the Gentiles.” Whereas the former clause specifies Jewish punishments and persecutions, this gives those they will encounter among the Gentiles; e.g., Paul, at Paphos, on the Isle of Cyprus, testified, when arraigned before Sergius Paulus, and won him; but when, in a similar manner, at the tribunal of Felix, another Roman proconsul, at Caesarea, he testified; but Felix rejected.
“But when they may deliver you up, do not he solicitous, how or what you may speak, for it will be given to you in that hour what you shall say; for it is not you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father who is speaking in you.” Wonderful has been the testimony and preaching of the martyrs, in all ages, when brought face to face with the burning fagot or the blood-thirsty lion. This Scripture has been most wonderfully verified, the heathen historian’s of the first three centuries certifying that the testimony of the dying martyrs often won their own murderers, so that they embrace the Christian religion, likewise sealing their faith with their blood. “Brother will deliver up brother to death, and father the child; and the children will rise up against the parents, and put them to death.” It has been estimated that two hundred millions of martyrs, during the Pagan and Papal ages, have died for Jesus. You can readily see how families would all be divided during those times of peril and bloodshed, the persecutors requiring them to testify against each other, and even participate in their martyrdom, as the only way of escape from a similar fate. “You shall be hated by all men for My name’s sake; but he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.” Those apostles, to whom He gave this commission and appended these stringent liabilities, all proved true to the end, except poor Judas. Matthew suffering martyrdom in Ethiopia; Mark, in Egypt; Luke, in Greece; James the Elder, the first of all, beheaded by Herod in Jerusalem; and James the Less, at a later date, hurled from a pinnacle of the temple; Matthias, the successor of Judas, suffered martyrdom in Abyssinia; Thomas, in India; Jude, in Tartary; Andrew, in Armenia; Bartholomew, in Phrygia; Philip, at Heliopous, in Syria; Paul and Peter, at Rome; and John, miraculously delivered from martyrdom in the caldron of boiling oil at Rome, and, as we believe, finally translated into heaven without seeing death.
“And when they may persecute you in this city, fly into another.” Thus you see, the people of God who bear this message of love and grace are not to use carnal weapons in self-defense, but run away, trusting the Lord for another open door. “For truly, I say unto you, That you may not complete the cities of Israel, till the Son of man may come.” You must remember, the immediate commission of these apostles, under which they are now going out, is restricted to the Jews, that restriction being removed when our Lord ascended, and the Holy Ghost fell on them, qualifying them for the conquest of the world. They are only gone out about three months in these duets, traversing the territory of Israel, till they return to the Lord, and accompanied Him the ensuing year of His ministry. N.B. The Mount of Transfiguration was really a prelude of the Lord’s second and glorious coming. This they actually witnessed in a few months from that date, thus verifying this mysterious declaration, as they had not yet gone over all the cities of Israel till the Son of man did actually come in adumbration on the Mount of Transfiguration, thus preliminarily revealing to them His second and glorious coming.
“The disciple is not above his teacher nor the servant above his lord.” Where we have “Master” so frequently in E.V., the word didaskalos, the noun, from didasko, to teach, hence it literally means a teacher. Jesus is the world’s Great Teacher, without whom the black darkness of the pandemonium would envelop it. “It is sufficient for the disciple that he may be as his teacher, and the servant as his lord. If they called the landlord Beelzebub, how much more the inmates of his house?” Our Savior here reveals to all who would be His witnesses, and herald His truth to a dying world, that we must be ready for any fate and disappointed at nothing.
“My rest is in heaven, My home is not here; Then why should I murmur at trials severe?
Come trouble, come sorrow; The worst that can come, Will shorten my journey, and hasten me home.”
Our Teacher and Lord, our great Exemplar, was homeless, destitute, and the world combined against Him, not even permitting Him to live on the earth which He had created. If we can riot accept the situation, and walk in His footprints, we can not be His disciples.
“Therefore be not afraid of them. For nothing has been hidden which shall not be revealed, and secret which shall not be known.” This follows as a logical sequence from the preceding affirmation in reference to the grave, criminal, and even diabolical affirmations which have invariably been adduced against the people of God. The Roman historians, Seutonius, Pliny, and Sallust, have all chronicled the gravest sins and darkest crimes against the Christians during the Martyr Ages of the heathen empire, thus apologizing for the bloody persecutionary edicts issued against them by the emperors. Of course, these historians only recorded hearsay, not claiming ocular testimony in the case. They said of Jesus, constantly, “He hath a demon,” “He is gone mad,” and “He is beside Himself.” They finally killed Him in the most disgraceful method, even hanging Him up between two criminals, notorious for robbery and murder. Similar accusations have been arrayed against the martyrs of all ages, thus signally verifying these prophecies of our Savior. Millions of people have been put to death, under gravest accusations, who, in the judgment-day, will shine like angels, while their accusers and persecutors, who stood at the head of the Church, will be calling for rocks and mountains to fall on them, and hide them from the face of Him that sitteth upon the throne. While, of course, the primary application of our Lord’s affirmation as to the revealment of all secrets is the ultimate and eternal vindication of His saints, it certainly follows that we should, in this life, become perfectly lucid and transparent to all illuminated eyes, so they can actually look through us, and read the hieroglyphics the Spirit has written on the tablets of our hearts, thus sweeping away the oath-bound secrecy of lodgery in all its forms and phases. “What I say to you in the darkness, speak ye in the light; and what ye hear in the ear, proclaim ye upon the house-tops.” This is a confirmation of the preceding, showing up the thorough transparency of God’s true saints. When filled with the Holy Ghost, secrecy evanesces.
“Be not afraid of those who kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” The sainted mother, by her godly teaching, baptized with loving tears and fired with the prayer of heavenly inspiration, should put the hell-scare on her infant so thorough that the tomfoolery and superficialism of the popular religion, which brings a polar iceberg into the Church to melt in hell-fire, can never be able to obliterate; but an early conversion will only add expedition to the race-horse speed with which you are running from an open hell and an unchained devil, and sanctification give you eaglewings to expedite the velocity of your precipitate flight from the awful, deep-toned thunders of that quenchless damnation which awaits all who, by the intrigues of men and devils, shall fall below the Bible standard of “holiness to the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14.) “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall to the ground without your Father; indeed, all the hairs of your head are numbered.” The infinite minutiae of the Divine cognizance, absolutely passing by nothing, but taking in everything indiscriminately, are here mentioned as a constant and potent inspiration to us all, peremptorily to settle matters for judgment and eternity by actually getting rid of the devil and everything belonging to him, in the glorious experience of entire sanctification and the constant indwelling of the Holy Spirit, as nothing short of this can actually settle that awful problem, whose solution is the “destruction of soul and body in hell.” “Therefore be not afraid; for you are of more value than many sparrows.” “Perfect love casts out fear.” Consequently the poorest and weakest saint, if true to God, can shout perennial victory from the mouth of hell to the gate of glory.
“Therefore, every one who shall confess Me before the people, I will confess him in the presence of My Father who is in heaven; but whosoever may deny Me in the presence of the people, I will also deny him in the presence of My Father who is in the heavens.” O what a potent inspiration to Christian testimony, semper et bique, “always and everywhere!” The awful delinquency in this duty and depreciation of this glorious privilege, thus turning the Churches into graveyards instead of battle-fields, is the “Ichabod” superscribed on the walls of modern Churchism. In the face of these glorious promises on the one side, and terrific denunciations on the other, voiceless pews are an incontestable proclamation of dead Churches. “Do not consider that I came to send peace on the earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword.” The Bible abounds in riddles and enigmas, inexplicable to the carnal mind. Jesus is called the Prince of Peace, and at the same time described as a mounted military General, leading His embattled host into deadly conflict, deluging the world with blood, and heaping it with mountains of the slain. Both of these characteristics are literally true. The peace which He gives only follows a bloody war with sin and the devil, fought under the black flag, which means victory or death. The sword in this passage is the formidable weapon wielded by the Holy Ghost in the extermination of sin and the decapitation of Adam the First
“For I came to divide a man against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and the enemies of a man shall be the inmates of his own house.” All this is the normal effect accompanying a true work of salvation; Satan’s grip on the people being so tight that he is certain to hold enough to represent him in every family, unless literal miracles of grace flood the home with heavenly conquest and stampede the devils down to hell. Bogus, popular religion makes no disturbance in families and communities, from the simple fact that the devil is not fool enough to waste his ammunition on dead game, as there are plenty of live people to shoot at. Whenever the holiness movement gets so it does not arouse the devil in dead Churches and stir up hell in debauched communities, you may go and write “Ichabod” on its banner, and prepare its winding sheet as quickly as possible, to bury it speedily, before the stench of a putrifying carcass disseminates pestilential malaria far and wide. “He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me; and whosoever does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” Here we see illustrated the absolute sine qua non confronting every aspirant to discipleship and heaven; i.e., the utter subordination of consanguinity, affinity, home, friends, and earthly possessions to the great Captain of our salvation. This is the fatal maelstrom into which many a bark has foundered.
“The one having found his soul, shall loose it; the one having lost his soul for My sake, shall find it.” The E.V. here has “life,” instead of soul. The word used by our Savior is not zoe, “life,” but psyche, the regular word for soul. In every instance in the New Testament, where the E.V. has “soul,” the Greek is psyche. Hence I give it just as Jesus said it. While King James’s translators were scholarly theologians, they were not eminent for spirituality, but much on par with the English clergy. I do not think they saw down into the profound depths of our Savior’s meaning in this passage. There never was but one creation of the human race. We were all created in Adam seminally. Hence, in the fall, we all fell with Adam, forfeiting the Divine and receiving the Satanic or carnal mind. James speaks of the “double-soul man.” (James 1:4; James 4:8.) The sinner has but one mind, and that is bad. The wholly sanctified has but one mind, and that is good; while the unsanctified Christian is James’s double-minded man, having the carnal mind in subjugated state, and the mind of Christ, received in regeneration, ruling in his heart and life, but must have the carnal mind sanctified away before he can go to heaven. Psyche, “soul,” is the word used by James. The reason why so few get saved is because they are not willing to travel the death route to heaven. Millions, intimidated by the grim monster, lifting up the battle-ax to decapitate Adam the First, turn away, and travel some other road, which does not require so much self- denial. We are born into the world with an evil soul, which must die, or hell is our doom. Hence this awful test: Unless you are brave enough to die, and take chances for life beyond the black river, your heavenly hope is Satan’s ignis tatuus,
“whose delusive ray Glows but to betray.”
“He that receiveth you receiveth Me; he that receiveth Me, receiveth Him that sent Me.” Christ bridges the chasm between God and man. Hence the wonderful feasibility of the redemptive scheme. He sends out His saved people to save others. The lost millions of earth have nothing to do but receive us, with our messages of truth and holiness, and in so doing they receive Christ; i.e., the loving, sympathizing Brother, Jesus. But He is not only man, but God. Therefore when the condescending, tender-hearted Nazarene takes you by the hand, behold! the hand of the Omnipotent grips you, lifting you from the lowest hell to the highest heaven. “He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet, shall receive a prophet’s reward; he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man, shall receive a righteous man’s reward.” O what a thrilling incentive to wide-open door and generous hospitality, ever ready, with joyful enthusiasm, to receive the saints and prophets, whom Jesus sends forth into this dark world to rescue the perishing and save the lost! The reward of God’s prophets and righteous people what is it? None other than a crown of life and a home in heaven. The departure of hospitality from the Church is the death-knell now ringing from ocean to ocean, pealing out the mournful funeral of the great Protestant denominations.
“Whosoever may only give one of these little ones a cup of cold water to drink in the name of the disciple, truly, I say unto you, Can not lose his reward.” We must remember that God sets great store on little things, appreciating the giver rather than the gift. How these promises should inspire us all to lend a helping hand in the expedition of every gospel pilgrim on his way, publishing salvation to the ends of the earth! “And it came to pass when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, He departed thence to teach and to preach in all the cities.” The preceding discourse, delivered by our Savior to His twelve apostles, when He sent them out, two by two, to traverse all Israel with the uttermost expedition, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, should receive the especial and diligent study of all who read these pages. O that He may so pour on you the Holy Ghost, meanwhile, that you may hear His interior voice calling you into the evangelistic field! I assure you, this is the grand incentive inspiring the humble writer of the Commentaries, praying incessantly that all the readers may catch the heavenly flame, respond to the loving call, and enter the gospel-field unhesitatingly.
THE MINISTRY OF THE TWELVE
Mark 6:12-13 . “And having gone out, they continued to preach that they must repent; they continued to cast out many demons; they continued to anoint many sick people with oil, and heal them.” Luke 9:6 : “And going forth, they continued to go throughout the villages, everywhere preaching the gospel and healing” (the sick). This is all we have on record appertaining to the ministry of the Twelve, while separate from Jesus, pursuant to the above commission; and this, you observe, is given by Mark and Luke, who were not apostles at that time. We hear nothing of Mark till Paul’s first evangelistic tour, about nine years subsequently to this transaction, when he went out as a helper of Paul and Barnabas, doubtless quite young and inexperienced, as his heart failed him in Pamphylia, so that, much to the disgust of Paul and doubtless the grief of his uncle Barnabas, he left the work and returned to Jerusalem; Barnabas, loath to give up his nephew, endeavoring to restore him to the evangelistic work and take him out on their second tour; but Paul positively refusing, they separated, thus organizing two evangelistic forces, Barnabas taking Mark, and Paul taking Silas, Luke, and Timothy. If Mark was present at the time of this commission, he was quite a youth, not coming into history till about nine years later. As Luke was a citizen of Antioch, when we first hear of him as a convert under the ministry of Paul and Barnabas, about ten years subsequently, it is hardly probable that he was present; yet he might have been, as the Jews were coming from all Gentile countries, magnetized by the preaching and miracles of Jesus. Why do not Matthew and John give us an account of this ministry? In their histories they are simply writing up the life and ministry of Jesus. They were both members of the apostleship at that time, and went out under this commission to preach the gospel to the Jews. From the chronological data we can pick up, the presumption is that they were gone about three months. Six parties of them, moving with great expedition over a region of country about the size of New England, would make great progress in a dozen weeks.
Here is a vacuum in the history of our Lord’s life and ministry. Matthew and John were absent; Luke and Mark had not yet become disciples, so far as our knowledge extends; the latter yet in his home in Jerusalem, and the former, off in Antioch, studying medicine. Luke, about A.D. 42, became the evangelistic helper and amanuensis of Paul, writing for him to the end of his life. Though the Gospel of Luke was dictated by Paul, we must remember that he never came to Palestine during the ministry of Jesus; having been educated at Jerusalem, but returned to Tarsus before the ministry of John the Baptist. It is believed that Mark wrote his Gospel at Rome, about thirty years after the ascension of our Lord, as dictated by Peter, who speaks of him very kindly, calling him his son. (1 Peter 5:13.) We find from the above Scriptures that the Twelve, during their absence from Jesus, were true and faithful, giving the trumpet no uncertain sound, but laying a constant, burning emphasis on repentance, which is fundamental in the gracious economy, not only laying the bottom rock of the experimental edifice, but gilding the topmost pinnacle; as metanoia, “repentance,” is from meta, “change,” and nous, “the mind.” Hence it means a change of minds; i.e., get rid of the carnal mind, and receive the whole mind of Christ, which really comprehends the entire plan of salvation. The trouble with dead Churches is the absence of evangelical repentance. We find these Twelve were constantly casting out demons i.e., getting people converted and healing the sick, not forgetting the anointing with olive-oil, which everywhere abounds in that country, and is a constant symbol of the Holy Ghost.
Matthew 14:1-12 ; Mark 6:14-29 ; and Luke 9:7-9
MARTYRDOM OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
Matthew 14:1-12 ; Mark 6:14-29 ; and Luke 9:7-9 . While the biography of Jesus is intimated by these inspired historians during the period of their absence, we find three of them favoring us with the record of the melancholy and apparently premature death of John the Baptist. As the Jews had poured out in multitudes, and hung spell-bound upon his eloquent lips, the six months of his brilliant and wonderful ministry, his name was everywhere a household word. Hence his cruel and untimely martyrdom fell on the nation with the shock of an earthquake. Mark:
“And King Herod said, John the Baptist is risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works are wrought through him. Others said, That he is Elijah. And others said, That he is one of the prophets. But Herod, hearing, said, This is John, whom I beheaded; he is risen from the dead. It being a high day when Herod, on his birthday, made a feast for his magnates, chiliarchs, and the first men of Galilee, and the daughter of Herodias having come in, and danced and pleased Herod, and those sitting along with him at the table, the king said to the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever you may wish, and I will give it to you. And he swore unto her, Whatsoever you may ask me, I will give you, even unto the half of my kingdom. And she, having gone out, said to her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist. And having come in unto the king with haste, unhesitatingly she asked him, saying, I wish that you may give me here the head of John the Baptist in a charger. The king being much grieved, on account of his oaths and those who were sitting at the table with him, did not receive his consent to reject her. The king immediately sending forth an executioner, commanded that his head should be brought. He having departed, beheaded him in prison; and he brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel; and the damsel gave it to her mother. His disciples, hearing, came and took his body and buried it in a tomb.”
a. This was Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, the last king of the Jews, who was on the throne when our Savior was born, and died at Jericho while He was in Egypt, a fugitive from the infantile slaughter at Bethlehem. He had married the daughter of Aretas, king of Arabia, whom he discarded in order to take Herodias, his niece, the wife of his half- brother Philip (not Philip the tetrarch, of Iturea and Trachonitis Luke 3:1), having employed a bondman in the home of his brother to seduce her away from her husband, and get her thus unlawfully to become his wife. His enraged father-in-law eventually invaded his country with an army, to avenge the maltreatment of his daughter. I saw the battle-field, off the southeast coast of the Galilean Sea, where Aretas met Herod, and signally defeated him, thus beginning his fatal downfall, which culminated in his ruin, the Roman emperor not only dethroning him, taking his kingdom from him and giving it to Herod Agrippa, but actually banishing him and Herodias to Lugdunum (Lyons), in the wilds of Gaul, and afterward exiling them in Spain, where they died in dreary solitude and misery, their temporal misfortunes the ominous prelude of the awful fate awaiting them.
b. We have in John the Baptist a beautiful and brilliant example of that stern and uncompromising ministerial fidelity which alone will qualify the Lord’s heralds for the judgment fires. John knew no fear. Bold as an archangel, he looked the king and queen in the face, and publicly exposed their sins, making the queen so awfully mad, as it was wholesale murder to her pride, that she would have slain him quickly through a hired assassin, if her husband had not defeated her purposes by shutting him up in prison. The implacable woman never relented, but studied every conceivable device to take his life. Eighteen months have whiled away since this greatest of prophets has become the inmate of a gloomy, subterranean dungeon in the Tower of Machierus, east of the Dead Sea, in the Land of Moab. During all this time, Herod frequently heard him preach, being powerfully wrought upon and deeply convicted, so that he actually obeyed the preacher in many respects. “For Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man; and he continued to hold him in prison, and hearing him, he continued to do many things, and hear him delightfully.” (Mark 6:20 .) Herod was a member of the Jewish Church, loved to go to meeting, and as John was the best preacher he had ever heard, was delighted with him, making great reformation under his ministry, still retaining him in prison, to keep his enraged wife from killing him. Little did he anticipate his awful, impending fate. Now conceive the situation.
c. Pursuant to the custom of Oriental monarchs, he makes a great feast, to which he invites his official subordinates, and the rich and mighty men from all parts of his kingdom, to participate his bounty and contemplate his royal magnificence. In the midst of the festivities and jollifications, while all are merry with wine, pretty, little Salome comes in, and dances a pantomime for their edification, her wonderful agility literally capturing the princely audience thronging the royal palace. Amid a thousand compliments by the magnates, the king, now drunk enough to act the fool, obligates himself, by a solemn oath, in the presence of the royalty and nobility, to grant her petition, even though she ask the queenship of half his dominions a custom from time immemorial peculiar to Oriental monarchs.
d. The little girl darts away, and counsels her mother, whose constant study the last two years has been the destruction of that impudent preacher, who had the atidacity, in his public preaching, to assault her character and ruin her reputation. O how she seizes the auspicious moment, and sends the girl back, with the bloody petition dropping in livid horror from her lips, “Give me here in this charger the head of John the Baptist!”
e. The king expected her to ask some great present, perhaps a kingdom, that she might rule over it when she arrived at womanhood. Her demand strikes him like a thunderbolt from a cloudless sky. He is flooded with grief, and would give a world to rescind the whole matter. But what can he do? If he goes back on his oath, he will so unman himself in the estimation of the royalty and the nobility that they will rebel against him on the spot, take the crown from his head, and either take his head off, or banish him from his kingdom. Satan helps him. He rallies his courage; dispatches the bloody executioner at once to the prison, with the charger sent in by blood-thirsty Herodias to receive the gory head of the greatest prophet the world has seen. f. The sad fate of King Herod should be a profitable warning to all the people who have not settled the problem of personal salvation by entire sanctification; lest, like poor Herod, in an evil hour, the enemy slip in like a weasel and suck away your life-blood, blighting your hope, and sealing your doom in the gloom of rayless night.
g. In the present age of conjugal infidelity, illegal marriages, and all sorts of domestic entanglements, withering and blighting the beautiful flowers wont to bloom amid the gardens of holy wedlock, and disseminating social pestilence, like the withering sirocco that sweeps its pestilential gales over Lybia’s burning sands, thus turning home into a pandemonium, O how we need the lightning, steel, fire, thunder, and earthquake type of preaching which characterized the fearless prophet of the wilderness, when he publicly scandalized the king and queen in their own presence, heroically preaching the truth, though it cost him imprisonment and martyrdom!
h. Should not that great preacher have been more cautious, and thus perpetuated his liberties, and prolonged his life many years to preach the gospel? I trow not. God makes no mistakes. Though John’s active ministry in the open air lasted but about six months, till overtaken by the dark eclipse of imprisonment and death, doubtless he did more good than if he had preached a compromised gospel six hundred years.
ARREST & IMPRISONMENT OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
Matthew 14:3-5 ; Mark 6:17-20 ; Luke 3:19-21 . Mark: “For Herod himself, having sent, arrested John, and bound him in prison, on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, because he married her. For John said to Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have the wife of thy brother. And Herodias hated him, and wished to kill him; and was not able. For Herod revered John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man; and he continued to hold him in prison, and hearing him, continued to do many things, and he was hearing him delightfully.” Matthew: “And wishing to kill him, he feared the multitude, because they had him as a prophet.” Luke: “And Herod the tetrarch, being convicted by him concerning Herodias, the wife of Philip, his brother, and concerning all those wicked things which Herod did, added also this to all, he also shut up John in prison.” We see from the concurrent histories of this dark tragedy, as given by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, that John the Baptist extended no royal courtesy whatever to the king and queen; but, looking them in the face, thus boldly and fearlessly exposed them in the presence of all the people, pronouncing his withering condemnation against their unlawful matrimony, Herodias, being the legal wife of his brother Philip not the Philip who was at that time tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonitis (Luke 3:1), but of another Philip, who was his half-brother. Here we see a notable case of an honest preacher going into prison and to the executioner’s block, losing all his liberties, and even his life, rather than withhold a solitary item of the truth. If the preachers nowadays were to expose and condemn all of the unlawful marriages in their congregations, thousands of them would lose their pastoral heads, especially in the wealthy city churches. O how the present age needs preachers having the backbone of John the Baptist! This illustrates the absolute necessity of entire sanctification on the part of the clergy, as nothing but this grace can qualify the preacher to tell the truth under all circumstances, regardless of his reputation, financial interest, and his ecclesiastical head. In this whole transaction, Herod shows up a better spirit than Herodias. You see plainly from Mark that Herod imprisoned John, and kept him in prison nearly two years, to keep Herodias from killing him. If he had not been protected by those impregnable prison-walls, and kept night and day under lock and key, the queen would have hired an assassin to go and murder him. Machaerus, a city and strong fortification, which our dragoman pointed out to us, on the east bank of the Dead Sea, where Herod also had a palace and spent a portion of his time, was the place of John’s imprisonment. During these twenty months, which wound up with his decapitation through the stratagem of Herodias, Herod frequently heard John preach. Mark says: “Knowing him to be a righteous and holy man.” We become righteous in regeneration, and holy in sanctification. Hence you see that King Herod, an intelligent, unconverted Church-member, had gumption enough to believe in the two works of grace i.e., regeneration and sanctification and see them both in John the Baptist. Mark here informs us that John’s preaching had a powerful effect on Herod, who, like multiplied thousands of unsaved Church-members, wanted to be good. “And hearing him, he continued to do many things, and he continued to hear him delightfully.” All this took place during those twenty months of his imprisonment at Machaerus, where Herod had a palace, and spent much of his time, meanwhile holding John in prison to keep his haughty wife from having him killed, she, of course, being too mad at him to ever hear him any more, though her royal husband heard him very frequently, ever and anon, and was delighted with the wonderful truth so ably and faithfully dispensed by his prisoner. “He continued to do many things;” i.e., he was very religious, and obeyed John in many things, being literally carried away by the red-hot truth which he preached; yet he never made the final surrender and got saved; finally permitting his diabolical wife to constrain him to imbue his hands in the innocent blood of the preacher under whose ministry he had been delighted these two years, shed many a tear, and made many a holy vow.
THE TWELVE RETURN
Mark 6:30-44 . “And the apostles come together to Jesus, and proclaim to Him all things, even so many things as they did, and so many things as they taught. He said to them, Come ye aside into an uninhabited place, and rest a little while. For there were many going and coming, and they had not even opportunity to eat.” Luke 9:10 : “And the apostles, returning, related to Him so many things as they did.” Our Savior at this time is at Capernaum, His home, on the northern coast of the Galilean Sea. These six evangelistic bands have traveled with wonderful expedition, pressing the work with indefatigable perseverance throughout Galilee and Judea. It seems that the whole country have been wonderfully disturbed by this extraordinary activity. Of course, as it is here specified, Jesus had been preaching incessantly all this time, thus making seven distinct centers of evangelization. Such has been the effect on the masses of population that, when the apostles all return from these six evangelistic fields, thronging multitudes tread on their heels; so eager to hear the Word, get saved and healed, that they actually deprive them of all leisure, so they have not even time to eat. Now we see Jesus suggests to them to leave the cities and villages, and seek a lonely retreat in the wilderness, where they can take a rest, recuperating their exhausted nervous energies, voices, brains, and reviving their entire physical organism, preparatory for still more efficient work. This we should all diligently heed. Many valuable Christian workers break down prematurely because they do not heed this admonition of the Great Teacher.
FEEDING THE MULTITUDES
Matthew 14:13-21 ; Mark 6:32-44 ; Luke 9:10-17 ; & John 6:1-14 . Mark: “And they departed, into an uninhabited place apart, in a ship. And the multitudes saw them going, and many recognized Him; and they continued to run on foot from all the cities, and come before them, and come together to Him.” They sailed from the city of Capernaum, on the northern coast of the Galilean Sea, and, as Luke says, they went into an uninhabited region of the city of Bethsaida; i.e., into a portion of country belonging to that city. Bethsaida is on the northwest coast, and Tiberias on the west coast. This uninhabited region i.e., a natural parkway off the coast, and perhaps about midway between these two cities. N.B. The Galilean Sea at that time was literally fenced in with cities, dotting the coast seventy-five miles in compass. Now, when He proceeds with the Twelve to embark for a rest in that desert place, the people in the cities round on the coast have a full view of them, and seeing the direction they are running, multitudes run around overland, actually arriving in the park before they do, while others come on in thronging multitudes. I saw all of this situation, and actually sailed over the route here specified, visiting all of the cities here mentioned. So you see how the eager multitudes defeated the plan of taking a rest, giving them an audience of about ten thousand instead of the solitude amid trees and rocks.
John 6:3 : “And Jesus came into the mountain, and was sitting there with His disciples.” The sea of Galilee, being depressed before the oceanic level seven hundred feet, as a natural consequence is surrounded on all sides by highlands, some of them (e.g., Mt. Hattin, on which Saladin, the Moslem general, defeated the Crusaders, thus putting an end to Christian rule in Galilee, A. D. 1187; and the Mount of Beatitudes, north of Capernaum) rising to great eminence. I saw the region off the coast on the mountain slope between Bethsaida and Tiberias, where this immense gathering took place. “And the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was nigh.” N.B. Our Lord began His ministry at the Passover by purifying the temple driving out all of the buyers and sellers. Having preached two or three weeks in Judea, He then came to Galilee, passing through and preaching in Samaria. Remaining in Galilee to the close of the year, He again attends the Passover at Jerusalem, immediately after which He returns to Galilee, where He remains, making, in all, three circuits throughout the country, and finally sending out His twelve apostles, heading six evangelistic bands. Now we see another year of our Lord’s ministry has gone by, and this great multitude, generally estimated at five thousand, but in all probability at least twice that number, as Matthew says there were five thousand, besides women and children, who, as a rule, constitute the larger half of an audience. The Jews were accustomed to go up to Jerusalem to their great solemnities by whole families, on foot, with a few donkeys and camels along to carry luggage, feeble old people, and babies, and frequently driving along sacrificial animals; thus going in great crowds for company and security against robbers and marauders. As we see here they were right on the eve of the Passover, doubtless this multitude had assembled in view of going on to Jerusalem, and attending their greatest national festival, which commemorated the birth of their nation.
Mark 6:34 : “And Jesus, going out, looked on the vast multitude, and was moved with compassion in their behalf, because they were as sheep having no shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.” We again find this frequently repeated affirmation of our Lord, “Sheep having no shepherd.” N.B. These were not heathens, nor outsiders, but the bona fide members of the Jewish Church, with their regular pastors, officers, and Church services. Still you see that in the Divine estimation they had no shepherds; i.e., no competent spiritual guides. How exceedingly pertinent does that alarming statement apply to the fallen Churches and worldly clergy of the present day! “And it already being a late hour, His disciples, coming to Him, say, That this is a desert place, and already the hour is late; send them away, that having gone into the surrounding country and villages, they may purchase for themselves bread; for they have nothing which they may eat. And responding, He said to them, You give them to eat. And they say to Him, Having gone away, must we buy two hundred pennies’ worth of bread and give them to eat?” Evidently having only two hundred pennies in the apostolical treasury. “And He says to them, How much bread have you? Go and see. And having ascertained, they say, Five loaves and two fishes. He commanded them all to sit down by companies on the green grass. And they sat by hundreds and fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fishes, looking up to heaven, He blessed them, and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples that they may distribute to them; and He divided out the two fishes to all.”
John 6:12 : “And when they were filled, He says to His disciples, Gather ye up the remaining fragments, in order that nothing may be lost. Then they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments from the five barley loaves which remained to those who had eaten.”
Matthew 14:21 : “And those eating were about five thousand men, besides women and children.” Evidently, as you see, at least ten thousand people, fed bountifully with the five barley loaves and two fishes, about enough for five persons, as the loaves in that country are generally small. That country is notorious for baskets, and generally very large, holding several bushels. A common sight at Jerusalem is a woman coming in, sitting on her little donkey, with one of these great baskets on either side filled with market stuff i.e., vegetables and fruits and a baby in her arms, and no bridle on the animal; sitting astride, apparently very comfortable, and frequently singing, as I supposed, for the entertainment of the baby. Hence, one basket would hold, in all probability, ten times the original amount of the whole supply with which they began to eat. Now ten thousand have eaten, and twelve baskets full of fragments were taken up. What a wonderful flood of spiritual truth pours in from this transcendent miracle! You go into an utterly destitute place like this to hold a revival-meeting. You can hardly rake and scrape fire enough on the old smoldering chunks to kindle into a flame. When once you get it started, it rolls a deluge over the neighborhood, running the devil out, and bringing heaven down. A hundred red-hot evangelists rise up from that meeting, and carry away fire enough to start a hundred new revivals. Spiritualities are the very opposite of materialities, as God’s ways are different from man’s. In temporal things, the more we use, the less we have. In spiritual, precisely the reverse is true: the more we use and give away, the more we have. You may hardly have religion enough to keep Satan from taking you, and go out and get some poor fellow gloriously converted, and, to your surprise, you will find that you have at least ten times as much as you had before you began this good work.
John 6:14 : “Therefore the people, seeing the miracle which Jesus performed, continued to say, That this is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world;” i.e., the Christ, the Messiah of God, the Redeemer of Israel, the Shiloh, the Savior for whom Israel has waited four thousand years; thus arousing and electrifying the multitude with the most thrilling enthusiasm, as the Jews have been listening to His preaching and diagnosing His miracles these two whole years, wondering if He is really the Messiah of prophecy, and at the same time ready to rally and crown Him King, as they all distinctly understand that the Christ is to be their King, break the Roman yoke, set them free, and even transcend the glory of David and Solomon, and reign over them forever; thus infelicitously mixing up the prophecies appertaining to His first and second coming, and running into a bewilderment, which, maneuvered by Satan, conduced awfully to blind their eyes and defeat their diagnosis of Messiahship in Jesus.
JESUS WALKS UPON THE WATER
Matthew 14:22-36 ; Mark 6:45-56 ; & John 6:15-21 . Mark: “And immediately He constrained His disciples to go into the ship, and to proceed before Him to the other side, toward Bethsaida, until He can send away the multitude.” This statement is calculated to puzzle the reader, because Luke 9:10, says that they were already in an uninhabited place of the city called Bethsaida. If you are only once on the spot, this apparent contradiction between Mark and Luke would suddenly vanish. The solution of the matter is, there were two towns called Bethsaida on the sea of Galilee the one in whose vicinity these multitudes were fed is on the northwest coast; and the other, toward which they sailed after adjournment, is on the left bank of the inflowing Jordan, and near the northeast coast. The latter is known as Bethsaida Julias; the latter cognomen being added to distinguish it from the other Bethsaida, and also in honor of Julia, the Roman empress. “And having sent them away, He departed into the mountain to pray.”
John 6:15 : “Therefore, Jesus, knowing that they are about to come and seize Him, that they may make Him King, departed again alone into the mountain to pray.” Here, you see, John tells the secret; they have assembled in vast numbers to go up to Jerusalem to the Passover. This stupendous miracle so convinces them of His Christhood that they resolve to take Him into hand, and carry Him along with them to Jerusalem, and there have Him crowned King of the Jew’s. This is the reason why He had to force His own disciples to go away. They, with the multitude, were determined to crown Him King. As the people looked upon them as leaders in that momentously interesting transaction, when they saw them embark in a ship to leave, the natural effect was to weaken the enterprise in the estimation of the multitude, and postpone His coronation. So now, His disciples, having gone to their ship, are sailing away in a northeasterly direction. Having dismissed the multitude, doubtless eluding their vision, He goes away alone into the mountain to pray.
“And when it was evening, His disciples embarked upon the sea, and having come into the ship, they were going across the sea to Capernaum.” Bethsaida Julias, toward which Mark says they were going, is in the same direction, but several miles beyond Capernaum. Hence there is harmony among the writers. “And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them; and the sea wrought, a great wind blowing.” The sea of Galilee, depressed seven hundred feet below the Mediterranean, and consequently surrounded by mountains and highlands, is quite subject to sudden squalls, often very violent, and dangerous to the small vessels they used in that day. When I was there last fall, it was my good fortune to sail round and over that beautiful sea in a most excellent boat, quite secure amid the storms, having been built for the especial accommodation of the German emperor, who visited that country the preceding year. “Therefore, having come about twenty-five or thirty furlongs [i.e., three or four miles], they see Jesus walking about on the sea, and being near the ship, and they were afraid.” Mark says, “Thought it was a specter” i.e., a ghost not distinctly recognizing, perhaps, even human personality. There-fore they were all alarmed and cried out with affright. Matthew 14:27 : “Immediately He spoke to them, saying, Be of good cheer; I am here; fear not.”
PETER WALKING ON THE WATER & SINKING
“And Peter, responding to Him, said, Lord, if Thou art here, command me to come to Thee on the waters. And He said, Come. And Peter having come down from the ship, was walking about on the waters to come to Jesus.
And seeing the wind strong, became alarmed; and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, Lord, save me! And immediately Jesus, reaching forth His hand, took him, and says to him, O ye of little faith, why did you doubt? And they, coming into the ship, the wind ceased. And those in the ship, coming, worshipped Him, saying, Truly, Thou art the Son of God.” These last mentioned as falling down, worshipping, and confessing His Christhood, were evidently the sailors in charge of the ship. We have here, in the example of Peter, a most notable illustration confirming the omnipotence of faith, as illustrated here by Peter looking at Jesus. So long as he kept his eye on Him, with perfect security he could run all around over the stormy sea. You who have never been in a storm at sea will hardly duly estimate the trepidation inspired by the rolling waves, thundering seas, and raging billows. Now, you must remember, the sea was not smooth and calm when Peter walked over it, but racked with storms and plowed with tempests, vividly illustrating the stormy ocean of probationary life. Just as Peter could walk over the stormy sea with perfect security, so long as he kept his eye on Jesus, so can you tread with safety the tempest-racked billows of life’s stormy ocean, swept by cyclones from the bottomless pit, so long as you keep your eye of faith on Jesus, and pay no attention to the roaring billows, nor the barking of the hell-hounds. The moment you take your eye from Jesus, and look at your adverse circumstances, and begin to estimate the power of your temptations, you will begin to sink; and if you do not, like Peter, cry out, “Lord, save, I perish,” you will sink forever, as hell has no bottom.
John 6:21 : “Then they wished to take Him in the ship, and immediately the ship was at the land to which they were going.” That land was Genesareth, and the city of Capernaum. Several hours had elapsed in their vain attempt to make headway against a strong northeast wind. When they took Jesus aboard, responsive to His bidding, the tempest lulls, and the sea calms. Therefore, with energetic rowing, they soon disembark at Capernaum, their destination.
Mark 6:51 : “He came up to them into the ship; and the wind ceased, and they were exceedingly astonished among themselves, and marveled. For they did not understand concerning the loaves; for their heart was hardened.” This stupendous miracle of feeding the multitudes the preceding afternoon, should have so thoroughly convinced them of His Christhood as to prepare them to recognize the lulling of the storm and calming the sea as the normal prerogative of Omnipotence, and consequently produce no surprise. Man is a trinity, consisting of spirit, heart, or soul, mind, and body. Hence the heart or spirit, and not the intellect, is the diagnoser of Divine phenomena.
“With the heart we believe unto righteousness” (Romans 10:10),
and under the illumination of the Holy Spirit, our spirit interpenetrates and comprehends the deep things of God. Hence, if you would understand the Bible, and diagnose Divine phenomena, and become truly wise in the deep things of God, get all the rocks of depravity eliminated from your heart, leaving it soft, tender, and filled with perfect love. Then you can go down into the profound mysteries of revealed truth, flooded with new spiritual illuminations, and progressively edified by fresh revealments of the Divine attributes in glory, though you never saw a college nor inherited Solomonic genius. These apostles all needed the sanctifying fire of Pentecost to melt their hearts so thoroughly and illuminate them so perfectly, that they would never again stagger at the ipse dixit of the Almighty. “And having crossed over, they came to the Genesareth land, and disembarked; and they, coming out from the ship, immediately those recognizing Him having run throughout all that surrounding country, began to carry in the sick on beds, when they heard that He was there. And when He went into the villages or cities or countries, they were continuously placing the sick in the forums, and entreating Him that they may touch the hem of His garment; and so many as touched Him were saved.” The stupendous and extraordinary miracle of feeding the ten thousand shook the whole country with the tread of an earthquake, thrilling the people with an incorrigible enthusiasm, to scour the whole country round about, far and wide, and bring in all the invalids, maniacs, demoniacs, and epileptics, while they had an opportunity to come in contact with the wonderful Healer.
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Godbey, William. "Commentary on Mark 6". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent