The words of Christ to His apostles before they started across Galilee (Mk. 4:35) didn’t hit me in my younger days like they do today. Experience has taught me a few things, as well as deeper Bible studies! Those words mean something because the word of God is powerful (Heb. 4:12). It’s these words in Mark 4:35 that bring meaning to the words in Mark 4:40. You see, it wasn’t merely the fact that Jesus was getting after the apostles for their lack of faith in a general sense. Jesus was chastising them for not believing the words He’d spoken before they’d ever left shore! We know that “faith cometh by hearing” (Rom. 10:17). The apostles had heard the words of Christ but hadn’t believed Him! This is why He said they had no faith.
Please understand, “Let us pass over to the other side” was just as powerful a statement as any other Christ uttered. Why do I say this? It is because Christ’s words have power. The power that can call the world into existence (Gen. 1-2) told the apostles, “Let’s go!” Regardless of the outward circumstances (Mk. 4:37), if Jesus says this boat is going to the other side, then it’s going! There is no storm, wave, wind, famine, fire, or flood that’ll stop it from happening! Did those in the “other little ships” hear those words from the mouth of Christ (Mk. 4:36)? The text doesn’t say, but either way, following Christ meant safe passage to the other side (Mk. 5:1)!
My question is a simple one: “Do you believe the words Christ has spoken or are you like the apostles on this day?” For example, Jesus has said:
- “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mk. 16:16). How do you respond to these words? Do you accept or reject them?
- “Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery” (Matt. 19:9). How do you respond? Have you found two, three, or many other exceptions to God’s rule of one man and one woman for life (Matt. 19:4-6)?
- “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets” (Matt. 7:12). How do you respond? Are you too busy getting vengeance against others to listen to the Lord’s words here? Have you convinced yourself that this way wouldn’t work “in the real world”?
Of course, He had many more things to say that demand our attention, faith, and obedience. Yet, these examples above make a crucial point. Christ’s word is just as powerful and just as authoritative as it ever was (Col. 3:17)! Do we believe this? If we say we believe, then why do we fight against His words?
Let’s remember that the One who cast demons out with a word is the same One who said “Let’s go to the other side.” The One who healed people of their physical illnesses is the same One who wants to save you from spiritual illness and has made salvation possible through the instructions in the gospel (Rom. 1:16)!
These apostles faced a hard situation on the sea of Galilee. Yet, they needed to trust in the Lord, who said they were going to the other side. Have you read Psalm 23:4 lately? Might there be some applications of this verse to the events in Mark 4:35-41? Now let’s get personal -- might there be some applications of Psalm 23:4 to your life? Do we say the “right thing” but not live it? The Lord has promised His church (Acts 2:47) that we’ll be in Heaven one day if we remain faithful (Rom. 2:7; Rev. 2:10; I Cor. 15:58). Will we trust these words and be patient in this world, enduring our problems (Mk. 13:13; Heb. 3:14)? Or will we be like the apostles in Mark 4 and falter for a lack of faith?
Just as it was 2000 years ago, and as it has been since Genesis 3, so also it is today, the choice is ours! What will we choose? Hebrews 10:39 says, “But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.” May this be our cry today! Christ has told us to “go,” so let’s go!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
The book of Mark is the shortest book of those comprising the “gospel records.” It shouldn’t surprise us, then, that Mark doesn’t wait long before showing us the opposition Jesus faced in His preaching. In Mark 2, we see scribes and Pharisees opposing Him and His work. Among their common complaints was that Jesus associated with sinners. Mark 2:15-17 says, “And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his (Matthew’s, JMJ) house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Seeing as Jesus just invited a publican (Matthew) to follow Him (Mk. 2:14), it shouldn’t be a surprise that when Jesus went to Matthew’s house, publican friends would be invited to listen to Jesus! Jesus treated this man just as He had earlier treated four fishermen (Mk. 1:16-20). He simply requested that they “follow Him.” This would change their lives far beyond anything we could describe on this page.
The point being that Jesus looked at five sinners (Rom. 3:23) and saw not what they were, but what they could become! He saw people who’d do much good for the Lord’s cause and kingdom, but they had to be taught! Jesus was willing to teach. In fact, Jesus was willing to teach all that would listen to Him. This is why we see multitudes coming to Him and listening (Mk. 1:28, 33, 37, 45, 2:1-2, 13, etc.).
In contrast, the scribes and Pharisees had no time, no compassion, and gave no thought to the lives and concerns of the sinners around them. I’m reminded of Christ’s parable in Luke 18:11-12. Therefore, when they saw Jesus spending time with publicans, sinners, and the like, this was scandalous to them! If He claims to be God’s prophet, and people claim He is the Messiah, surely even He would know the kind of people He is around! (For more study, please read Luke 7:36-50 and see the attitude of Simon toward Christ.)
In Mark’s short book, we see Christ’s attitude toward sinners as one of respect, one of compassion, and one of love. He never berated them for their bad decisions or sins. He never acted as if they were beneath Him (though they were -- all of us are!). He did, however, tell the truth and told it unapologetically. He told the truth in a manner that they (and all) could understand. Please read Mark 2:15-17 and see that when Jesus was criticized for even associating with publicans, sinners, and others, His answer was not a defense of their sin. He didn’t say, “At least they’re not hypocrites!” as some might’ve been tempted to say. His answer was straight-forward: “they need Me!”.
Notice Jesus called them sick. He called them sinners and said they needed to repent (Mk. 2:17)! Can you imagine such language coming from the lips of the Lord? Yet, there it is. What impresses me is that these people seemed to follow Him in greater numbers the longer He was on earth. What had Jesus done? As we observe Jesus in Mark 2 and the rest of the book, we see Someone who showed compassion (Mk. 1:41, 5:19, 6:34, 8:2). He saw people who needed direction (Mk. 6:34) and saw sinners who needed salvation. The people responded to this genuine action and listened intently. What Jesus said in Mark 2:17 was not “new news” to them. They knew they were in sin, and now they knew that they had come to the right Person who could bring them salvation!
What can I learn from this short reading? I can learn first to not be like the scribes and Pharisees. No one is “beneath” you. All of us have sinned (Rom. 3:23). If you’ve been saved from your sins, then thank God for the salvation (Lk. 19:10; Mk. 16:16)! When you see people who aren’t saved, realize that you were in their shoes not that long ago. Someone loved you enough to tell you the truth. Now, love them enough to do the same (II Tim. 2:2; Eph. 4:15)!
The second lesson I learn in Mark 2:15-17 is to be like Jesus in my speech! Folks who are in sin need to know it! Friend, “no greater injustice can be done to a person than to leave them with the impression they are saved, when in fact, they aren’t!” Jesus called the people sick, sinners, and in need of salvation. This is precisely what they needed to hear. If they hadn’t been told this, they might’ve left the presence of Jesus thinking that they were just fine. Dear one, when you talk to someone about their soul, remember that this part needs to be said. You can talk about the weather, crops, children, the government, and 1000 other things, but if you miss the chance to talk to someone about his soul, you’ve missed it! There’s nothing more important than the condition of one’s soul (Matt. 16:26)! Pleasant smiles, hugs, and being neighborly will mean little when on Judgment, they look at you and say in so many words, “You met me day by day and knew I was astray, yet you never mentioned Him to me!” I would much rather thousands of people on Judgment Day cry that I told them about Jesus and warned them about sin but hurt their feelings than to have one person say, “You never mentioned Him to me!” What about you?
A third thing I learn from Jesus was even when He spoke of people being sick and sinners, He didn’t seem happy about it! May we never take a condescending view of others in sin (Matt. 7:12, 22:39; Gal. 6:1; Jas. 5:19-20; etc.). As we noted earlier, it wasn’t that long ago that we were in their position as well.
Lastly, I have to note that the message of Christ was a message for all. While it would’ve been easy for the Pharisees, scribes, and others to listen to Mark 2:17 and then think, “OK, this is why Jesus is with them.” If we listen closely to the response, it was actually a rebuke to those people as well. Think about it! Jesus said He came to call the sinners to repentance. Amen. Was He not also preaching to the Pharisees, scribes, and others when He was preaching those three years? Was there ever a time from Matthew-John where Jesus stopped His preaching to say, “Scribes and Pharisees, what I’m about to say doesn’t apply to you”? Jesus’ attitude was that those self-righteous people were as guilty of sin as the rest (Mk. 7:6-9)! They needed the same message because they needed the same Savior! Jesus suffered as a sacrifice for all men, not just for the ones on the “wrong side of the tracks”! They would’ve understood Jesus’ message here if they’d cared to listen, instead of wasting time pointing their fingers at others!
Much more could be said, but take what we’ve learned here and think seriously about our attitude. What kind of attitude are we displaying? Who’ve we told about Jesus this week? What efforts do we make to bring others to the Lord, beginning with those under our own roof (Eph. 6:4; Titus 2:3-5)? Think seriously about this, my friend, because the souls of those we love as well as our own souls hang in the balance (Ezek. 33:7-9)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
In our previous study, we studied about Christ calling Peter, Andrew, James, and John to be fishers of men. One other event connected with this calling is found in Mark 1:20 (and Matt. 4:22). Mark makes a point of saying that Peter and Andrew “forsook their nets,” and when James and John left, they left their father in the boat. Matthew’s account varies slightly by saying they left “their ship and their father.” Either way, the point is that things were left behind to follow Christ. In these four men’s cases, they had to leave their family (father) and their business (ship and nets) to follow the Lord and be “fishers of men.”
Jesus didn’t take such decisions for granted. Later, He told the disciples, “Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life” (Mk. 10:29-30).
Christ never promised the disciples a life of ease when He called for them. Nor did He promise a life free from sacrifice! I think Mark 1:18-20 states this lesson quite succinctly. Matthew 8:19-22 and Luke 9:59-62 teach a similar truth when three people approach the Lord about following Him, and each person is told essentially to choose Him over anyone and anything else. Yes, following the Lord requires sacrifice (Rom. 12:1-2)! He never promised a life of ease on earth. He promised life eternal (Matt. 25:46) and rest one day (Heb. 4:9) if we’ve been faithful now!
Many have sacrificed for the Lord through the years. I think of Elijah, Elisha, Job, and many others in the Old Testament. Some have lost their lives in order to remain faithful to God. This is recorded for us in Scripture. Even our “secular” history records the lives of those who risked life and limb that the gospel might spread far and wide. While many lost their lives, still others lost their livelihoods, and some lost families in order to live according to God’s will. I can think of many preachers of the gospel whose sacrifices have allowed me to preach where I am today, and I’m thankful.
The older I get, the more I understand, though, that anything truly worth having will cost something. I’ve also seen that (with a few exceptions) we don’t usually appreciate the things given to us without some condition. Usually, the things for which we haven’t struggled and earned are the first things we give away or sell. If that item breaks or is stolen, there’s little emotion involved. I hasten to add I know there are exceptions to this, for example, an inheritance or something similar, but usually, what I’m saying is true. Watch people and see if I’m not right!
I know it sounds trite to say, “There is no free lunch,” but that is a true statement. For you to get something “free” means someone else bought it. That includes the “free gift” of our salvation (Rom. 5:15-16, 6:23)! Someone else paid a price that we might have the opportunity to be saved (Jn. 3:16; Rom. 5:8; Matt. 20:28, 26:28; Heb. 5:8-9; etc.). Don’t get me wrong, there are conditions attached to this “free gift,” and rightfully so! We can’t enjoy the blessings of God’s gift unless we believe in Christ (Jn. 8:24), repent of our sins (Lk. 13:3), confess Christ as God’s Son (Rom. 10:10), and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). We must have some “skin in the game,” and we do when we make that commitment to accept the Lord’s conditions and follow Him for the rest of our days (I Cor. 15:58; Rev. 2:10b; etc.). We must put the Lord first (Matt. 6:33) and not be “conformed” but be “transformed” (Rom. 12:2), that we might grow closer to the Lord every day.
Four apostles in this text left family and business to follow Christ and serve Him for the rest of their days (Mk. 1:18-20). What’ve we left behind? Does the gospel mean anything to you? Does the cross mean anything? Have we been fooled into thinking that being a Christian requires little more than warming a padded pew and devoting my time for an hour or so on Sunday? Have we left anything behind willingly? If not, why not? Those who think that being a Christian is nothing or that there isn’t true sacrifice involved in being a Christian have never read the Book! The gospel demands much of us. Ask Peter, Andrew, James, and John what it cost them! However, the reward will surely be worth it (Rom. 8:18).
Are you ready to leave this world behind to gain Heaven?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
In Hebrew 2:1-5, the Jewish Christians were shown the great salvation that belongs to those in Christ. What is it that makes salvation great? Let’s find out.
First, a great God planned our salvation (Heb. 2:3). God promised that it would be through Abraham that “all families” of the earth would be blessed (Gen. 12:1-3). We can also read in the Bible of the multiple prophecies of a coming Savior (Isa. 7:14, 9:6; 53; etc.). When learning about our great salvation, we see forethought and extensive planning on God’s part.
Next, we see a great Savior executed the plan. Passages like Genesis 3:15, Psalm 22, and Isaiah 53 show us that God’s plan included Jesus dying as a sacrifice for man’s sins. While on earth, Jesus had one motive: to seek and save the lost (Lk. 19:10). His life, death, and resurrection was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. For example, His crucifixion in Matthew 27 was the fulfillment of Isaiah 53. Jesus also prophesied of His own death and burial (Matt. 12:40). Such was foreshadowed in the life of Jonah. He then prophesied that He was to be resurrected the third day (Jn. 2:19). The four gospel accounts record His resurrection in which even His enemies declared that Jesus had risen! The Bible states that Christ’s resurrection gives us the hope of everlasting life (I Cor. 15:13-20; I Pet. 1:3). God’s plan for this great salvation was executed flawlessly by the Sinless Savior (Matt. 5:17; John 17:4, 19:30). We can have salvation today, thanks to what He has done!
Great miracles were performed to prove Jesus is our Savior. (Heb. 2:3-4). These miracles showed that Jesus was the Son of God and that He was speaking the truth (Jn. 2:11, 23; 4:46-54; 11:43-48). The Apostles and 1st Century Christians used miracles for the same reason (Acts 13:7-12). What good would it have done for God to offer salvation to people who wouldn’t believe Him? They didn’t have Bibles to read as we do (I Cor. 13:8-10), thus the need for miracles, signs, and wonders.
The simplicity of obedience makes salvation great! What good would it do for God to devise a plan of salvation that was impossible for man to obey? God’s commands have always been stated so that man can accomplish them. For example, in Genesis 2:15-17, mankind was to dress and keep the Garden of Eden and stay away from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Wasn’t that simple? In II Kings 5:10-14, we read about Naaman, who complained about God’s plan for cleansing him from leprosy (an incurable disease) because it was so simple! Today, God’s plan of salvation is that we believe that Jesus is the Son of God (Jn. 8:24), repent of our sins, and be baptized (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38). Isn’t this plan simple? Have you obeyed it yet?
Finally, a great reward awaits those who accept God’s great salvation. This reward is an inheritance for His people (Matt. 25:34; I Pet. 1:3-4). This reward provides great joy to those saved (Matt. 25:21, 23). One of the best parts about this great reward is that those saved will be in the presence of Jesus forever (Jn. 14:1-3). This great reward makes salvation great! Will you neglect this great salvation? I hope not!
- 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