Jeremiah is well-known for being “the weeping prophet.” Passages such as Jeremiah 4:19, 9:1, 13:16-17, and 14:17 make it clear that this description was well-earned. Make no mistake; his crying was not because he was some wimpy, weak character. He was not crying for fear, or some selfish reason, or because he was ashamed. Instead, he wept over the sins of the people of Israel. Similarly, we see Jesus doing this when He was on earth. In fact, He was referred to as the “man of sorrows” (Isa. 53:3; Matt. 26:37; Luke 19:41; John 11:35).
Jeremiah wept over the sins of the people. I suggest that the language he uses shows he thought himself unable to cry a sufficient amount over the sins committed in his land. In Jeremiah 9:1, it is written, “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!”
Compare Jeremiah’s attitude toward sin with the “majority’s” attitude. Let me also challenge you to compare how the brethren act toward sin today with how Jeremiah acted toward sin in his day. Jeremiah wanted to cry and wished his eyes could be a “fountain” to cry over the sins committed by God’s people continually. He understood that sin was not a joke or a game. Sin is not a myth or something made up to scare children into behaving. Sin is real, and it is deadly (Jas. 1:15)! The passage that teaches us that “Fools make a mock at sin” (Prov. 14:9) is still true!
Why did Jeremiah weep over the people’s sin? All one has to do is look into Scripture and see how God describes sin to know why it is a cause for crying. Below are four descriptions. God describes sin as:
- An indelible stain (Isa. 1:18)
- A heavy weight (Heb. 12:1)
- A trespass (Eph. 2:1)
- Putrifying sores (Isa. 1:6)
How could this not make us cry if we saw someone in this condition physically (stained, wounded, filled with sores, etc.)? Though we cannot see the spiritual effects of sin, when God looks upon us, He sees it! We see the effects of sin when we see the physical results. When we see the drug addict and the wino, when we see the person who has STDs or suffering from the torture of having killed a baby through abortion, we see the effects of sin in people’s lives. When we see the person who is racked with guilt because he has stolen from others or has been abusive to a child or spouse, we see someone suffering with the consequences of sin. Our jails are filled with those who broke man’s law, but if we look closely, many have also broken God’s law!
I say this not with arrogance, but in the spirit of Jeremiah – how we might wish our heads were waters and our eyes were a fountain of tears to be able to weep over what we see in our generation in this country! Oh that we might weep over the sins committed by brethren at times! We have Christians that ought to know better, but they still commit sins before God. Let us remember that sin is as deadly for the Christian as for the non-Christian (Ezek. 18:20; Jas. 1:15). It is not a game or a joke and will lead us to Hell finally if we do not repent. Is that not another reason that tears might flow? Let them flow for the ones who seem determined to go to Hell and will not make a change (Matt. 7:13)!
God stands ready and willing to accept those who will come to Him (Matt. 11:28-30; Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; II Pet 3:9; Rev. 22:14). Who will do it? Should not this fact motivate us to go and find those who are lost and bring them to the Lord before it is too late? Let us be encouraged to find them! Let our tears not cause us to quit, but through tears, let us be motivated with an urgency to tell lost souls about the Lord before it is too late!
Jeremiah teaches us that there is no shame in weeping when we are weeping over the right things!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Where did the people come from that brought God’s word in Bible days? Did they come from Jerusalem? Did they come from Samaria? How about Dan or Beersheba? In truth, they come from those places and many more. Some came from small villages on the edge of Philistia (Micah 1:1, 14)! Some came from obscure places like Tishbe (I Kings 17:1), while still others come from far-flung villages like Nazareth (Matt. 2:23)! It may surprise you where the men come from who preach the gospel of Christ today! Some come from large cities or even foreign countries, while still others were born and raised in small communities you might never see or visit in your life. A dear friend of mine told me he grew up in a town that does not exist! I have been to the area where he grew up and can attest that his words were true. The town does not exist!
Why say these things? I write as a reminder that the power of the gospel does not rest with men. It does not rest in the towns where men live, nor does it rest in the things that provide “comfort” or “familiarity” to us. Instead, the gospel has its own power. The gospel saves us (Rom. 1:16-17) and does so by its own intrinsic power. When someone is saved from his sin through faith, repentance, and baptism (Acts 2:38; Mk. 16:16), it is the result of that person hearing, believing, and obeying the gospel (Rom. 10:13-16; Heb. 5:9, 11:6). It is not because of the eloquence of a man’s voice (I Cor. 2:1-5), nor is it because the one teaching came from the “right area,” the “well-known” part of the world, he attended the “right college,” or was raised in the “right” family according to men’s standards.
God “hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence” (I Cor. 1:27-29). When we read in the Bible about Morasheth, Tishbe, Dan, Gilead, Beersheba, Jerusalem, Samaria, and even Nazareth, let us not be distracted by those places (or even their pronunciation in some cases!). Instead, let us focus on the fact that a messenger of God came from there, and it is the message of God to which we need to give heed (Micah 1:1)! Had folks done this in Micah’s day, perhaps even more would have been saved. If people focused on the message from the Man from Nazareth instead of worrying about His pedigree (Jn. 1:46, 7:41-42; Lk. 4:22), perhaps even more could have been saved! Today it is no different. We need to listen to the message rather than focusing on the outward appearance of the messenger (Rom. 1:16; II Tim. 4:2)! Is his message from God’s word (I Pet. 4:11)? Then accept and obey it, not because a certain man said it but because the message is from God! If it is not from God, reject the message and rebuke the messenger (Eph. 5:11; II Jn. 9-11)! Not because the man was from the “wrong place,” but because the message is false (II Pet. 2:1-3)!
It is fun to know people’s origins or “backstories,” isn’t it? Likewise, it is exciting to think of a person’s life in a remote or “exotic” location. However, let us not become so distracted by things like these that we do not focus on what is important. Micah the Morasthite spoke a message from the Lord, and people needed to listen (then and today, Rom. 15:4)! Likewise, Jesus of Nazareth has a message for us (Heb. 1:2), and we need to listen so that we will save ourselves and save those we teach as we strive toward Heaven (I Tim. 4:16)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
The man called to raised Jesus stands out to me. He was not chosen randomly any more than Christ’s mother was chosen randomly (Lk. 1:28-38). Joseph was not only “just” but a conscientious person who considered his actions carefully (Matt. 1:19-20). He was also a patient person, as he knew not his wife until she had given birth to Jesus (Matt. 1:25). He led by example, and though we are privy to his thoughts in Matthew, Joseph never actually speaks in the book! Like Abel, “he being dead, yet speaketh” (Heb. 11:4).
Another thing that impresses me about Joseph is his lineage. In the section of Matthew, “we” tend to skip (Matt. 1:1-17), we learn that Joseph comes from a long line of kings, beginning with David (Matt. 1:6). Think of it – some 1000 years before Joseph was born, David lived and died. All those kings we read about in the Old Testament were leading up to Joseph’s time (Matt. 1:18)! What might have been a source of pride to men was not even mentioned after Matthew 1! While we read of some speaking of Jesus as being the “Son of David,” most of those who did denied this truth.
Joseph was an unassuming man living in an obscure town (Jn. 1:46). Yet, when the time came, he stepped up to the challenge of raising God’s Son! He is a good example for us today and deserves more credit than he gets much of the time! Among the outstanding characteristics he had, let’s also understand that he was an obedient man. He was obedient by staying with Mary and then by naming her son Jesus (Matt. 1:24-25). He might have been tempted to call Him “Joseph Jr.” or another name from the family. Instead, He obeyed God and gave Him the name God demanded (Matt. 1:21).
This man teaches us much by his actions. Will we take the time to learn? How might our lives change? How might they improve if we lived a life of obedience, patience, conscientiousness, and humility like Joseph? Live like Joseph for a month and see how your life improves. You will never want to return to your old way of living.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
In the three “synoptic gospels,” we read where Jesus chose His twelve apostles. What comes to mind when we think about “apostles”? Often, we think of these men who had the ability to “heal sicknesses and cast out devils” (Mk. 3:15). Maybe we think about the men receiving the Holy Spirit’s power in Acts 2:1-5? I hope that when we think of the apostles, we think of them as teachers of the Word. This was their primary work (Mk. 3:14)!
Are you familiar with the word “apostle”? It has a simple meaning. It means “one sent” (Thayer, Vine’s). Someone sent to do a specific work is, in the strict definition, an apostle. For this reason, Jesus was called an apostle (Heb. 3:1)! This is because He was sent from Heaven to the earth with work to do (Jn. 3:16, 17:4). Of course, we know these men had a special work to do. They had been called explicitly by the Lord to take the gospel first to the Jews and later to the world (Matt. 10:6; Mk. 16:15). They also had to meet certain qualifications to be the Lord’s apostle (Acts 1:21-22).
What impresses me is the fact that these men were not what the “elite” or the “powerful” would have chosen to be apostles. Almost all of them were from Galilee, not from Jerusalem or Judea. They were from an area not known for their literacy (Acts 2:7). Four or 1/3 of the apostles were fishermen! Jesus also chose a tax collector (publican), a zealot, and others from nearby places in Galilee. These men who had not traveled much except within the borders of Israel were chosen to take the gospel to the world! Once taught and empowered by the Holy Spirit, they preached the gospel “in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). These men who were sent by Jesus accepted the work, the hardship, the persecution, and finally, death in order to spread the gospel.
What brave souls! What true workmen! They lived through sad times, and they also saw many victories. To their number was added two more apostles, Matthias and Paul (Acts 1:26, 26:16-18). Though they came later, they still had the same mission -- to teach and preach to people and bring lost souls to Christ! This these men did until they met their deaths -- all except John died at someone else’s hands.
I know there are no living apostles today in the sense that Jesus had them (Acts 1:21-22). Yet, we still have their testimony with us in the epistles and gospel records. These men wrote the words of the New Testament. Therefore, we can take the words of the apostles of Christ to the world as we teach others and preach the “unsearchable riches of Christ.” Paul told Timothy, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (II Tim. 2:2). The point being that as Timothy told “others” what he had been taught, then they would tell “others,” and those “others” would tell “others,” etc., until we come to this present day! Friend, you and I are supposed to be in that “chain”! We are supposed to accept the Lord’s will, believe it (Heb. 11:6; Jn. 8:24), obey it (Heb. 5:9; Mk. 16:16), and then teach others (Matt. 28:20) what we have done so that they can do it, too!
We are not the ones Christ chose, but we still must take up the mantle and go to others to tell them about the Lord and salvation. Are you going to do what God wants you to do?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Mark 3:1-6 records a time when Jesus was in the synagogue and healed a man with a withered hand. This event happened on the sabbath day when God had said no work was to be done (Ex. 20:10-11, 31:15, 3l; Lev. 23:3; Deut. 5:14). Thus, the Pharisees and scribes (Lk. 6:7) watched Jesus on this day, scrutinizing His every move. Other versions besides the KJV say “they watched him closely” in this text (NKJ, NET, etc.).
Why were the scribes and Pharisees watching Jesus (closely)? Did they want to make sure and witness a miracle? No! Were they enamored with the Lord and His power? No! The reason they watched Him so closely was to determine whether or not He would “heal” the man (i.e., work) on the Sabbath (Mk. 3:2). If they could catch Him in such an error, they could accuse Him of a capital offense (Ex. 35:2; Num. 15:32-36; Jer. 17:21-26)!
As I read this text (and parallel accounts in Matthew and Luke), what stands out to me is that these people weren’t watching Jesus so they could show how He was a fake! They didn’t watch to show folks where the “wires” were or how He did tricks with “smoke and mirrors.” Jesus wasn’t a fraud as Simon was (Acts 8:9-11)! These people knew Jesus was the real thing when it came to miracles. They just didn’t accept what that meant for them, and so they looked for ways to accuse Him of sin!
When Jesus merely said, “Stretch out thine hand,” and the man was healed (Mk. 3:5), what “work” did He do? Is speaking now to be classified as a “work” to those people? Jesus had outwitted them, and they were “filled with madness” at what He’d done (Lk. 6:11).
As my old friend used to say, these people accepted the evidence (Christ’s miracles are real), but they rejected the conclusion (Jesus is the Christ)! Their dishonesty would lead them down a road of sorrow, unbelief, and ultimately an eternity in Hell if they didn’t repent (Jn. 8:32)!
There are people like this today, sadly. For example, think about those who say Jesus is a “good guy” or a “good prophet.” Some might say He was a good philosopher, but they deny He’s the Son of God. Here are people today who accept the evidence but reject the conclusion. They won’t accept Jesus as the Son of God! For this choice, they jeopardize their souls!
Another lesson we learn from this text is that the Pharisees and scribes, though supposed to be living in a close relationship with God, didn’t express that which God embodies -- love (I Jn. 4:8)! Love doesn’t think ill of another. Love doesn’t envy, and love thinks the best of others (I Cor. 13:4-8). We see none of those attributes in the Pharisees in this text. They were looking for a way to accuse Jesus. They were watching in the hope of finding fault. That’s not love!
Mark 3:5 declares Jesus looked upon the Pharisees and scribes “with anger.” He was angry at the people and that their hardened hearts would stand by in condemnation as He healed a man who needed it. It was lawful “to do well” on the sabbath (Matt. 12:11-12; Lk/ 6:9). Yes, menial work was prohibited and jobs wherein people might’ve been engaged all week long were to be stopped on this day, but showing compassion and mercy to another wasn’t prohibited any day of the week! Their lousy attitude had so clouded the truth that they thought being compassionate was somehow sinful. Read Galatians 5:22-23 and learn there’s no law that is somehow against one practicing the “fruit of the Spirit.”
Jesus had a lot of work to do, but He was up to the challenge! Read the book of Mark and see what facts come to life for you! There is much to learn, and perhaps it is I that’ll get an “attitude adjustment” by reading about the works and listening to the words of Christ!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs