Mark 2:3-12 records the miracle of the lame man “borne of four” and lowered through the roof to be healed by Jesus. I’m very impressed with this miracle and impressed with the lesson behind it (v. 9-10). However, have you ever considered why the men lowered their friend through the roof? They had to do this because they couldn’t get their friend through the front door (v. 2, 4)! Prior to them bringing their friend to meet Jesus and be healed, Jesus had entered the house in Capernaum, and when He taught the people, they filled the house, so there was no more room in the house for anyone else (v. 1-2).
As I thought about the full house, it brought to mind two lessons:
- What Jesus brought to the people. Jesus didn’t come to Capernaum with bags of gold. He didn’t offer people freedom from enemies or some scheme for getting rich quick. He came to Galilee, “preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God” (Mk. 1:14). I’m impressed with the book of Mark and how it emphasizes the word of Christ. Twenty-two times in sixteen chapters, we read about Christ’s work in spreading God’s truth. Some of the words used to describe Christ’s work include: “Taught” (9x); “preached” (2x); “preach” (1x); “teach” (4x); “teaching” (2x); and “doctrine” (4x). Jesus brought the people the truth (Jn. 17:17)! He made a point of telling as many people as possible about the “gospel of the kingdom.” May we learn a lesson from Christ in this. What’s on our lips? Do we take the time to tell someone about the Lord? If not, why not? Only through Christ will any man have salvation (Jn. 14:6; Acts 4:12)!
- What interest do we show in Christ’s teaching? I’m also impressed when I read passages like Mark 2:1-2 because I see a generation of people who took a genuine interest in the truth taught. I hear about similar responses in foreign countries like the Philippines, Colombia, China, and other places today, and for this, I am thankful. Yet, being a citizen of America, I wonder about those of us in the USA! What interest are we showing in God’s word? As Christians, is God’s word still our “first love”? Are we hungering and thirsting for the truth (Matt. 5:6)? If not, why not? Only the doctrine of Christ will bring salvation (Rom. 1:16; Mk. 16:15)! Only the doctrine of Christ tells us from whence we’ve come, why we’re here, and where we’re going when this life is over! There’s no other sustenance for the soul (I Pet. 2:2; Heb. 5:12-14). Is there any wonder folks in the first century flooded the house where Jesus was? They wanted nourishment! Do we appreciate God’s spiritual nourishment?
Having considered the above carefully, there is only one thing left to do: apply what we have learned! You see, these two elements go together like a hand in a glove. First, what are we teaching people? Do we know God’s word well enough to tell it to others? It’s high time we woke from our sleep and got busy learning the word so we can tell the truth to others (Heb. 5:12-14)! I am convinced there are people in the good ol’ “U.S. of A.” that want to hear the truth. Their problem is that they don’t know where to look! Too many groups calling themselves “churches” and claiming to love the Lord and His word talk about everything else but what is most important! Unfortunately, even some of my brethren are more concerned about social events, or whether or not the community thinks well of them, rather than focusing on the one thing that will save!
Have we ever thought about the fact that if we got focused again on the most important thing - the truth - we would attract people now as Christ did then! The gospel has the same power it has always had. Could it be, though, that we have lost faith in it?
Let’s remember what Christ brought the people and the people’s interest. These things are inseparable! Paul encouraged the same thing when he taught Timothy to “preach the word” (II Tim 4:2)! Are we willing to follow in the Lord’s footsteps? I’m convinced we haven’t worn out the Lord’s way yet! Let’s go back to that and see the blessings that come when we do things the Lord’s way!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Mark (and Matthew) recorded when Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James, and John to be “fishers of men” (Mk. 1:16-20; Matt. 4:18-22). These men had already met Jesus at the time of this calling (Jn. 1), and now Jesus sees them fishing in the Sea of Galilee and calls for them to be “fishers of men.” What a unique thing to say to these men. How can someone go from fishing for fish to fishing for men? Christ would spend the next three years preparing them for the work!
What’s necessary to fish for men? Could I suggest there are several similarities between this and fishing for fish? First, one needs a net if he’s going to catch fish or catch men! The spiritual net that is spread is the Word of God! Christ wanted them to “cast” this “net” far and wide. He told them to preach about repentance and that “the kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Mk. 6; Lk. 10; Matt. 10). In like manner, are we looking for ways to “cast” the gospel net today? Have we thought of ways to use what opportunities we have to tell others about the Lord? If not, why not?
Another thing these fishers needed was patience! Just as fish aren’t always caught right away, so also, men can be cantankerous and wish to fight against the truth of God’s word. The apostles needed patience! Paul also taught this to Timothy in II Timothy 4:2. The original twelve apostles would see the patience of Christ as He taught the people continually and faced opposition daily (Mk. 2:7; etc.). As “fishers of men,” these men needed patience, just as a farmer has patience when he plants the seed and waits for the harvest (Mk. 4:1-9, 14-20)! Today, we need patience as we teach folks about the Lord. A wise person once told me, “Don’t expect a person to learn in five minutes what it took you five years to learn.” Yes, patience is needed as we teach and show people what it means to be a Christian.
Fishermen also need faith that the method will work! The method for catching fish on Galilee is that one fishes at night and on the shallow end. We get a picture of this in Luke 5:5, and when we read Mark 1:16, and read about Jesus walking “by the sea,” i.e., on the beach, and He sees Simon (Peter) and Andrew “casting a net into the sea.” Evidently, they were standing on the beach as well and throwing their nets into Galilee. In the case of fishing for men, the Lord taught these men a method that works! They were to preach God’s word in its fulness and simplicity. They were to teach it faithfully to all (Mk. 6:12, 16:15; Lk. 10:9; Matt. 10:7). When these faithful men preached the truth, it would produce faith in others (Rom. 10:17). The same is true today! The gospel is “the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16). Changing the message or changing the way God wants men to know the truth won’t produce Christians! We need to trust God that His way works every time it’s tried!
Just like fishermen, these “fishers of men” had to go where the “fish” (men) were to catch them! We’ve referred several times in this article to the times when Jesus sent His disciples to preach. He sent them to where the people were in order to spread this message. Before His ascension, Jesus would say a similar thing (Mk. 16:15), instructing His apostles to go “into all the world”! Why? It was so they could “preach the gospel to every creature”! They had to go where the people were! Paul would do this, and we see him going to the synagogues in the various cities often because this is where the people were (Acts 17:3)! It does no one any good if we have a message but refuse to make it known! In this country, opportunities abound to spread the gospel. Yes, even in a pandemic, we can talk with people about the Lord! (Don’t forget your children, Eph. 6:4! Don’t assume that this “captive audience” knows the gospel if you’ve never taught it.) In addition to face-to-face meetings, we can write letters to people (remember those?), send texts, send emails, write a note on “social media,” make a phone call, and take advantage of numerous other ways to get God’s message out.
Christ needed “fishers of men” 2000 years ago in Galilee, and He needs them today. Are you going to step up to the work (Matt. 9:37-38)?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
When we read the book of Hebrews, it is evident that “better” is a keyword. Christ is contrasted with the angels and Moses. His priesthood is contrasted with Aaron’s, and His covenant contrasted with the Old Covenant. These and many other things (blood, etc.) show Christ and what He did to be “better” than all others. This is how God intended it.
I wonder if we miss one of the contrasts, though, because it is presented so early in the book. It is seen in the first two verses of Hebrews. “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds” (Heb. 1:1-2).
While there is no question that the Holy Spirit inspired Old Testament writers and prophets (II Pet. 1:20-21), there is something different and notable about the fact that “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:14). Again, note the contrast in Hebrews one. In the past, God revealed His will in various ways and by various means. He stopped doing that when Christ came to earth. Christ came with a mission and a message, and it behooves all of us to listen! I think it is interesting to note that in the presence of Moses and Elijah, the words came from Heaven, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” (Matt. 17:5)!
When Jesus left the earth, the apostles had a message to preach (Mk. 16:15). Paul called it “the word of reconciliation” (II Cor. 5:20). It was the same message he taught “everywhere in every church” (I Cor. 4:17). The message of Christ and His death, burial, and resurrection was taught as reality by Paul and all of those preaching in the first century, and it needs to be preached today with the same fervor and fire (I Cor. 2:2, 15:1-4).
This message is contrasted with Old Testament preaching because while those godly people preached about One to come, we can now preach that He has come to this world. What they looked forward to, we can have the trust and understanding that it has happened. What those from the Old Testament saw as a far-off glimmer, we see as the “day star” (II Pet. 1:19).
I hope this will help us see that great contrast in Hebrews 1:1-2. The Old Testament people had God’s word given to them (Rom. 3:1-2). This was indeed a great blessing. Greater still was when the word became flesh and dwelt among us! It was when the words were no longer words of what was to come, but words that proclaimed it has happened! God has kept His promises! We have salvation at our grasp because of the sacrifice of the Lord! Are you glad that you live in a time when you can benefit from the knowledge given since God has spoken to us through His Son?
As I close this, let me hasten to add I am not trying to take anything away from the work of the Holy Spirit after Christ ascended (Jn. 14-16; Acts 2; etc.). In this study, however, I have tried to emphasize what the text emphasizes – how God has spoken to us through Christ in these last days. What a blessing it is to have a Bible in our hands. Let us read it, learn, and obey, and we will see for ourselves how Christ is better than all!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Song of Solomon 1:3 contains the Shulammite’s words when she says her future husband’s name is “as ointment poured forth” (KJV). Other versions record this as his name is, “as perfume running out” (ASV), “spreading perfume” (CEV), “sweeter than the best perfume” (ERV), “perfume poured out” (ISV), and “the finest perfume” (NET).
In the immediate context, is this not the way of those in love? To mention his name (or her name) is to mention something that warms the heart and excites the senses. Just as sweet as perfume is the name of this person to the one in love. The context of Song of Solomon 1:3 concerns those not yet married. The excitement and thrill of those “dating” or “engaged” are wonderful to experience and witness in others. At the same time, who says such passion and delight must end with the passing of years? Husbands and wives, how does the name of your spouse sound to you today? Is it still as sweet or sweeter than when first mentioned years ago? If not, why not? May the excitement and joy at hearing your beloveds name continue as long as you live! May the “perfume” and “sweetness” in the name increase as the years continue. No doubt, this would be the intention of the Shulammite, and it ought to be our intention today with our beloved spouse.
In this verse, I also see an application that can be made to the Christian and Christ. After all, Christ’s name is better than all names. His authority is higher than all authority (Matt. 28:18; Acts 4:12). He is “Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6). Indeed, the sound of His name to us ought to be better and sweeter than all perfume. Paul states that at the name of Christ, “every knee” will bow (Phil. 2:10). His power is greater than anything of man’s devising (Col. 3:17). Therefore, we need to turn to Him for comfort, strength, and salvation. Let us also look to Him in anticipation to one day hear the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21, 23)!
How is this a possibility for us? It is possible when we believe in Jesus as the Son of God (Jn. 8:32). He is more than a mere man, more than a prophet, more than a religious leader. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords (I Tim. 6:15)! He is the Son of God who loved us and died as a sacrifice for our sins! Believe in Him, repent of your past sins (Lk. 13:3), confess His wonderful name as the Son of God (Acts 8:37; Rom. 10:10), and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). When we do this, and we live for Christ, truly, His name will sound sweeter than all, and will be better to us than any perfume, for we recognize that it is Christ who is our Savior, who loves us, and who wants us to be with him in eternity in Heaven! What a beautiful thought and what a beautiful name!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Solomon, the wisest man to walk the earth (I Kings 4:30-31) offers us advice today. He records that he had tried it all, but the best that the world had to offer was still not enough (Ecc. 2:11). I find it interesting that when we read Ecclesiastes 2:1-12, Solomon fell into the same trap we today are prone to fall.
Solomon said he tried laughter (2:2), wine (2:3), buildings (2:5-6), possessions (2:7-10), entertainment (2:8), and sensual pleasure with his concubines (2:8), and it all brought him to one conclusion -- it was worthless (2:11-12)! In reading this section, I find it interesting that Solomon’s choices are the same ones the world today holds up to us as measurements of success. Think about it. If you are to be “successful” by the world’s standards:
- Live by the motto: “If it feels good, do it.” When it stops feeling good, then stop doing it and do something else.
- Be sophisticated and drink alcohol.
- Build things so there is some “monument” or “legacy” when you are gone.
- Be entertained.
- Make sure and engage in sensual/sexual pleasure without concern for marriage.
- Stockpile all of the goods and possessions that you can. Money equals happiness!
If the world’s standard means happiness, why was Solomon so sure this was a waste of his time on earth? Why wasn’t Solomon happy? In like manner, why are there so many successful people who are miserable today? Koheleth (the Preacher) calls the future generations together to say that; actually, this is not what brings happiness or joy to life (Ecc. 2:11-12)!
Friend, let us learn a lesson from the Preacher and get our priorities straight (Matt. 6:33). Jesus has a better way. He reminds us, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Lk. 12:15). Contrast Ecclesiastes 2 with Hebrews 11:32-40. God says that the world was not “worthy” of those prophets and folks who dwelled in deserts, mountains, and caves, not in men’s palaces. What made the difference? Study this and learn that this difference made all the difference!
Fulfillment in life does not come with “things,” but with what is intangible (II Cor. 4:18). Preparation for Heaven, stockpiling treasure in Heaven is far greater than the treasure we might amass on earth (Matt. 6:19-21). Where is your treasure, friend? Where is your heart? Solomon lived a life of opulence and found it all empty. His words and life stand as an object lesson for us. Are we willing to listen and learn? Let’s get our priorities straight and have a fulfilled life in Christ. If you’re not a Christian, then become one while you can (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38). If you have already done this, then stay faithful (Rev. 2;10). Lay up your true treasure in Heaven.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs