MARK 4 COMMENTARY

Now Jesus speaks of another kind of healing, even more important and earth-shaking than physical healing of an incurable disease! He teaches how to be healed in your relationship with God. It’s broken, but He will heal it.

Verses 1-2 — Jesus attracts large crowds, especially when He is teaching. Again, He gets into a boat by the sea and sits down. Everyone gathers on the shore. Jesus attracts large crowds when He is teaching through someone who knows Him intimately, too.

He teaches in parables (symbolism in stories) because the Jews have blasphemed the Holy Spirit. It is an important turning point. He taught plainly and directly, but now he teaches in what seem like riddles to some of his hearers.

Verse 3-8 — He speaks of things the crowd understands. Many work in the fields.

If seed falls by the road, where feet have compacted the soil, it simply lies there. Birds come and eat it.

If seed falls in rocky soil where the soil is shallow, a plant springs up, but its roots can’t go down through the rocks. So when the sun rises, the plant withers and dies.

If seed falls on thorns, plants will come up, but their fruitfulness will be choked out by the thorns. The plants may stay alive, but just barely. So they cannot produce what they should produce.

If seed falls on good soil, it grows up, it is productive, it increases. Every seed multiplies its production, creating a 30 or 60 or even 100 times greater harvest.

Verse 9 — Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear. Huh? “Ears to hear” means more than natural ears hearing a sound. It means ears to hear and heed what is said, ears to hear and understand the parable just spoken by Jesus. Hear, He says to such ones. Do you want to understand the words of Jesus? Then ask Him for ears to hear.

Verse 10-11a — Well, His followers have not experienced Pentecost yet (see Acts 2). So they do not understand.

And Jesus says something strange to them. He tells them they have been given a gift. He is speaking of their future, when they will understand His words. The gift is this — they will understand the mystery of the kingdom of God, because they will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).

It is not that the kingdom of God remains a mystery. It is a mystery revealed, for all who have ears to hear. It is a mystery revealed, for all who understand what Jesus is saying.

The kingdom of God that the Jewish leaders are looking for is a kingdom where one of King David’s descendants rides into town on a white horse, whips the Roman Empire, and sets the Jews free from slavery to Rome. Wrong!

His kingdom has to do with the heart. The kingdom of God is within us (Luke 17:21).

It is also established in heaven. God and Jesus Christ are seated there, even now.

When I say “within us,” I mean that when you are “saved,” you receive a measure of the Holy Spirit in you, enough for you to be recognized by God as one of His children. Yet you still have trouble obeying God.

But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, God the Father and God the Son come to live permanently within you, filling your heart completely with the Holy Spirit (John 14:23). Then your heart belongs completely to God, Jesus Christ rules and reigns in you, and it’s easy to obey.

That makes it possible for Jesus to use you to work His powerful works and to make you a witness to the world that the Bible is true and Jesus Christ came to take away mankind’s sin and fill their hearts with His Spirit, just as the Bible says.

So He sets up His kingdom in the hearts of those with ears to hear, and they go out with the power of God within them.

They work mighty works, speak powerful life-giving words, and people see that God is real and that they need Jesus Christ to save them from their sins. That’s called “repentance.”

Miracles (works of power that defy known natural laws) yield repentance.

Repentance yields salvation. That’s fruit. Thirty, sixty, a hundredfold. There’s no end to the fruit you will produce.

And the fruit is also within the one who is filled with the Spirit, because that one has the characteristics of Jesus Christ. That’s fruit, too. Thirty, sixty, a hundredfold. There’s no end to the fruit you will produce.

Verse 11b and 12 — BUT . . . Jesus tells us in the last half of Verse 11 that those who are outside will hear and not understand. It will remain a mystery to them. They will not comprehend what He is saying.

Why? Because they don’t have ears to hear. They hear audibly, but their hearts are packed down soil, or their hearts are shallow soil, or their hearts are thorny soil. So they have no understanding. Their hearts are hard, because Jesus isn’t Who they expected, and because He tells them they are wrong about many things. So they see but they do not see the truth, they hear but do not understand.

If you see and see the truth, if you hear and understand, you will turn (repent) and be healed in your relationship with God.

Verse 13 — Jesus goes on to explain. He lets us know that if we understand this parable, we will understand all His parables. The Bible opens up in a wonderful way, when You are filled with its Author. You understand it.

Verse 14-15 — The seed is the Word of God (the Bible). When it is sown in a heart with packed-down soil, Satan comes like a bird, and snatches it up.

Verse 16-17 — When the seed is sown in a heart with shallow, rocky soil, there is an immediate joyous response. But it has no firm root. So when trouble comes, the Word in rocky hearts withers like a shallow-rooted plant withers. And the Word which started to grow there dies. The shallow, rocky heart doesn’t want to be harassed or killed. So those with such hearts go away.

Verse 18-19 — When the seed is sown in a heart where the worries of this world and deceitfulness of riches and desire for other things is present, these worries and greediness choke out the Word that has begun growing. It becomes unfruitful. The Word sprang to life in their hearts. It didn’t wither, it didn’t get snatched away. But it becomes unfruitful. The plant has grown, but there is no fruit.

Verse 20 — When the seed is sown in a heart that is not packed down or rocky and shallow or crowded with other things, that heart is good soil. And the fruit I wrote about is produced.

Verse 21-24 — Is Jesus changing the subject? Not really. Those whose hearts contain good soil, who hear and understand the Word, will be like lamps on a lamp stand, They will shine brightly, and not be hidden. To those who have ears to hear and understand, Jesus says, “Hear!”

If you hear, you will receive much wisdom and truth and power from God. And He will give you more and more.

Verse 24-25 — This sounds awfully harsh, Jesus. If you have, more will be given. But if you don’t have, what you have will be taken away from you. What do You mean?

The ones who don’t have are the ones who don’t have ears to hear. They do not understand the kingdom of God. They have their own kingdoms in view — like the Jews assuming they’ll be in charge after Christ comes in on a white horse and whips the Roman Empire. Then they’ll rule and reign in Israel. And THEIR kingdoms will surely be taken away from them.

Verse 26-29 — Jesus continues to teach what the kingdom of God is. It appears out of nowhere. And you don’t have to work really hard to make it grow. It just does, seemingly all on its own.

And it produces fruit, without you having to work hard to produce it. The fruit just happens. And then you harvest the fruit. God does the work THROUGH you.

God does the work in human hearts. Because the kingdom of God has been set up in your heart, you have a front-row seat so you can “oooh” and “aaah” over what God does.

Verse 30-32 — So the kingdom of God is within you. It starts small and miraculously grows. Then it is a shelter for all who come into its shade. They have to come near to come into its shade. But if they do, their hearts will become good soil, and they will bear much fruit. The kingdom of God is like that.

Verse 33-34 — Mark re-emphasizes that Jesus only speaks in parables, but explains everything privately to His disciples. He must, until they have the kingdom of God within them, and the Holy Spirit fills them. Then they will have the Explainer inside themselves.

Verse 35-41 — Jesus wants to go to the other side of the sea (of Galilee). It’s dark. A few boats set out, including the one Jesus is in. A fierce storm suddenly comes up. Boats are being swamped. The disciples are experienced fishermen who have worked the sea for many years. But this storm scares them. They think they’ll perish. Meanwhile, Jesus is asleep. So they wake Him and scold Him. Don’t you care about us? We’re going to die!

No big deal to Jesus. He just rebukes the wind. Hush, be still. It must obey, because Jesus said it. So the sea becomes calm.

Then Jesus rebukes them, because they haven’t understood yet that He is God in the flesh, and has power over everything. They’ve seen Him do all kinds of miraculous things. They’ve seen Him do the impossible. So why are they afraid? They do not yet understand. But they will, after Pentecost.

So they still do not understand that He is God. They are amazed that the wind and sea obey Him.

Well, dear reader, if Jesus can calm the wind and the sea, He surely can heal you in your relationship to God, giving you a heart with good soil. And He surely can heal your physical body. Do you believe Him?

MARK 3 COMMENTARY

Verses 1-4  Every time Jesus enters a synagogue, where Jews worship, He is watched and rebuked by the religious leaders, in this case, the Pharisees (see verse 6). According to Jewish law, no one is to do anything on the sabbath — including healing — because God has declared it a day of rest. Here comes Jesus, calling to a man with a withered hand.

When He commanded the man to get up and come forward, the man HAD to come forward, because Jesus said it. Again, when Jesus says something, it must be done. When Jesus speaks to you through these scriptures, you must do what He commands.

Then He questions the leaders. Of course, they can’t override their rules and regulations in order to help someone in need. They can’t even see the need. How long has the man with the withered hand attended their synagogue? And no one has asked God to work through them to heal him, because you can’t heal someone on the sabbath. It’s against the rules. They completely miss the heart of God in the command to observe the sabbath. It is never to override the need to set someone free.

Verse 5 — It grieves Jesus when our hearts are hard toward Him, when He doesn’t fit our idea of who He is, when He doesn’t play by our rules. “Grieved” means distressed, filled with sorrow. He isn’t a weepy Jesus, but once again, the Jews show that they do not recognize God in the flesh, standing before them. How far they are from their God, and they don’t even know it! He is angry, but not in a human way. His is passionate indignation.

Then He says to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” The man had to stretch it out. Jesus commanded him to do it. The normal hand didn’t need to be stretched out, but it was impossible to stretch out the withered one. But of course, nothing is too difficult for God. So the man stretched out the withered hand, and the hand was healed. He had to stretch it out in order for it to be healed, and he had to stretch it out because Jesus commanded him to do so. Do you see it? You take a little mustard seed of faith, lift it up to Jesus, and then watch Him do exactly what He has said He will do!

Verse 6 — Now the Pharisees conspire to kill Jesus. He is ruining their religious system, and they are both threatened by Him and jealous of Him.

Verse 7-12 — Jesus withdraws, but not in surrender or fear. He simply goes to a place where people will receive Him. He is surrounded  by crowds, because He has healed many — again, this really means “all.” Because of the crowding, He asks for a boat. Other gospels tell us He preached from there. Everyone with afflictions, everyone possessed by an evil spirit, wants to touch Him so they can be healed. You don’t have to wait for Him to touch you You can reach out right now and touch Jesus, and He will heal you. Get close to Him. There are no crowds to push to the side. There were no crowds in my bedroom, on September 1, 2001.

The demons know who Jesus is. The common people know who Jesus is. The Pharisees and other Jewish leaders do not know Him, though they ought to know Him. They study Him all the time in the Old Testament.

Jesus tells the evil spirits not to tell anyone who He is, but they SHOUT it anyway, as they fall down before Him. Why doesn’t Jesus want to be known to everyone as the Son of God? His time has not yet come. When He rises from the tomb three days after being laid there, everyone will know.

Verse 13-19 — An important point. You do not make a decision to receive Jesus. He chooses you. What happened after He chose them? He sent them out to preach and GAVE THEM AUTHORITY to cast out demons. Matthew 10:7-8 is a more complete description of what He told them to do. He is the One who gives us authority — we do not take it upon ourselves to heal, cast out, cleanse and raise from the dead. We do it under His authority and command.

NOTE: The Zebedee brothers are called “Sons of Thunder” because of the incident recorded in Luke 9:54.

Verse 20-21 — Back in Capernaum, crowds surround Jesus and the disciples. There is no room even to eat a meal! Everyone wanted to be set free! But what is the response of His family? They think He has lost His mind.

Verse 22-29 — The scribes are equally blind about Jesus. They say He is possessed by the devil (Beelzebul) and that it is by the devil’s power that Jesus casts out demons.

They have just committed the unpardonable sin — that is, they attribute what God is doing to the devil. They call the Holy Spirit unholy. Jesus explains in Matthew 12:31 that any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people (if they repent and turn to Him), but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. It is an eternal sin, as He says in Mark 3:29.

Of course, it makes no sense that the devil would want to cast his own demons out of people. The devil’s house would be divided against itself. It is absurd. How can Satan cast out Satan? Why would Satan want to do that? I tell you that Satan is finished. It happened on a tree in Calvary. But he’s still around, afflicting those who do not know Jesus, and lying to those who DO know Jesus. Don’t believe a word he says. Believe Jesus.

Verse 30-35 — Outside are the mother and brothers of Jesus, who think He has lost His mind. They want Him to come with them. Jesus says His true mothers and brothers are before Him already! His true mothers and sisters and brothers, His true family, are those who do God’s will. Many claim they are part of the family of God and that Jesus is their Savior, but they disobey God. They are not part of His family at all.

MARK 2 COMMENTARY

This is a commentary for you and me. It isn’t complicated, because Jesus wants you to understand it, so you can be healed physically and even more importantly, in your relationship with God, which is broken.

Verse 1-2 — Jesus has returned from Galilee to Capernaum, his home base. Crowds form, because they have heard what He did in Galilee. The place where He is staying is packed with people, and it is impossible to even squeeze through the door to get in.

I tell you, when Jesus works His works even today, He attracts crowds. As with your own case, there are many sicknesses and diseases and mental problems and demonically possessed people that are considered incurable by modern medicine. Even today, some Christian healing ministries are very large and famous. I leave it to God to judge which are truly the work of Jesus, and which are not. But Jesus is still working!

Verse 3-5 — Four men cannot enter by the usual way, with their paralyzed friend. They are sure if they can just reach Jesus, their friend will be healed. That’s faith. So they remove the tiles on the roof and make a big enough hole so they can lower their friend down. That’s faith. Jesus sees their faith.

What is His response? “Son, your sins are forgiven.” That means that his disease is related somehow to sin in his life. The sin problem has to be dealt with before the man is in a spiritual position to be healed. If you have confessed your sins and have been saved. You are in a spiritual position to be healed.

Verse 6-8 — The scribes (Jewish men who specialize in Jewish religious law), are upset that Jesus forgives the man’s sins. Only God can forgive sins, and by doing it, Jesus is proclaiming He is equal to God. They don’t say these words, but they are thinking them, in their hearts.

Here’s a very important point. Jesus knows what you are thinking without you speaking it. So be honest with Him. Are you doubting? He knows already. Be honest, confess it, and ask Him to increase your faith. He will.

Verse 9-12 — Both “your sins are forgiven” and “get up, pick up your mat and walk,” are equally easy for the Son of God. He’s already done the first. Now He does the second. And the man gets up, picks up his mat, and walks. He has to. Jesus said it.

And the people marvel, because the scribes and Jewish leaders have no such power or authority. That’s why they have never seen anything like Jesus’ works.

Verse 13 — Note that Jesus never goes anywhere without teaching. It is never just a matter of laying hands on the sick so they get well. It is teaching, teaching, teaching. About what? About Him, about God, about sin, about repentance from sin, and about forgiveness from God.

Verse 14 — Again, Jesus says “Follow Me,” and Levi (Matthew) immediately leaves His money, His whole business, and follows Jesus. He cannot help but follow. Jesus said it. You cannot help but be healed, when you understand that Jesus says it.

Verse 15-16 — The scribes and Pharisees are holier-than-thou. If someone isn’t religious like them, they don’t want to eat with them, touch them, or get near them in any way. So when Jesus eats with the non-religious, and the Pharisees see that many are following Him, they are both jealous and upset. They don’t go to Jesus with their concerns. They ask His disciples.

Verse 17 — But Jesus overhears. He hasn’t come to save those who think they are righteous (that is, they are self-righteous and think they do enough good things to get them to heaven).

If they think they can get to heaven by dotting every “i” and crossing every “t” of the ceremonial Law, why would they see their need for a Savior? But those who know they are sinners will run to Christ. He comes for those who understand they have a heart condition (sin) for which He has a cure (salvation first, and then purification of the heart).

(NOTE: Righteousness is being right with God, by asking Jesus Christ to take away your sin, believing He died to take them away and rose on the third day. The outcome or fruit of being made right with God is that you live in a way that honors God and His Christ.)

Verse 18-20 — Even the disciples of John the Baptist question Jesus because His disciples do not fast three times a week (part of the ceremonial Law of Judaism).

Jesus refers to Himself as the Bridegroom, and as long as He is with His disciples (who will, with the rest of the 120 become the church in Acts 2), they should not fast. Why would a bride (the church) fast when Her Beloved husband (Jesus Christ) is present? When He is taken away from them (crucified), they will fast. Until He is risen on the third day, it will be fasting because they are mourning. But when they are filled with the Holy Spirit, it will not be fasting to obey a ceremonial Law, but to obey the Holy Spirit when He calls them to fast, as in Acts 13:2.

(NOTE: Jesus Christ is the Bridegroom. Look at John the Baptist’s testimony in John 3:29. John the Baptist identifies himself as the friend of the Bridegroom. In Jewish weddings, the friend of the bridegroom goes ahead of the bridegroom to announce that he has arrived on the scene. That is what John the Baptist did. Also, see 2 Corinthians 11:2 and Ephesians 5:25.)

Verse 21-22 — Just in case the reader doesn’t understand that Jesus is speaking of the self-righteous and their dependence on doing the ceremonial Law to get to heaven, Jesus adds these statements. The ceremonial Law is the old garment, the old wineskins, the old tradition.

He announces that He brings a new garment, a new wineskin. His new covenant (promise) cannot be applied like a patch on the ceremonial Law. His new wine (His Holy Spirit) cannot be confined to the wineskin of the ceremonial Law. It is a new thing, though the Ten Commandments still apply. You just do them automatically. If you want a little more depth on that point, I’ll be glad to supply it!

Verses 23-26 — The Pharisees who dot every “i” and cross every “t,” don’t understand Him. They continue to fuss with Jesus about the Law. They completely miss what the Sabbath is all about. His disciples are hungry, so they pick the heads of grain and eat. Oh, no! That’s work! You aren’t supposed to work on the Sabbath!

But Jesus reminds them of the Old Testament, which they seem to have forgotten, or which they have completely misunderstood.  David and his followers, when they were being hunted by King Saul, were given not just any old bread but (heaven forbid!) the showbread, which is considered untouchable. And what was worse, if the Pharisees are right about their idea of goodness, can you imagine what happened?? Horrors!! The priest was the one who gave the untouchable showbread to them. The Pharisees would say that David and his men, and the priest, disobeyed the Law!!! But of course, they did not disobey God’s will.

Verse 27-28 — To reinforce what Jesus is teaching the Pharisees and us, He tells them that God instituted the Sabbath for man. Who is man, that he should misuse the Sabbath as some kind of law that must be followed? For the Pharisees have misused it as a means of accusing Jesus and His disciples. They have taken it upon themselves to tell God the Son how the Sabbath is to be observed. How blind they are!

These verses are a reminder that no one can, by any of his own works, please God. If you try, you make your works your god, as the Pharisees, scribes and Jewish leaders did. Do you see it?

MARK 1 COMMENTARY

This is a commentary for you and me. It isn’t complicated, because Jesus wants you to understand it, so you can be healed physically and even more importantly, in your relationship with God, which is broken.

Verses 1-3  Why did Mark begin with Jesus Christ’s ministry, rather than with the story of His birth? Because he wants you to know RIGHT AWAY that this Jesus Christ is the One foretold by Isaiah in Isaiah 40:3 (the voice of one crying in the wilderness . . .) and Malachi 3:1 (Behold I send My messenger . . .).

Mark’s goal is to speak of Christ’s ministry, so you may know that He indeed is the Christ prophesied in the Old Testament (OT).

Verse 4-8 So the messenger in Isaiah 40:3 is John the Baptist. He baptized with water for repentance, for the forgiveness of sins. But Someone was coming who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. It was to be a whole new kind of baptism! This Someone was more powerful than John the Baptist.

Verse 9 But Jesus came from Nazareth, where He was raised, to John the Baptist. Why did the Son of God, the Christ, need baptism? He was perfect and sinless, so he had no need to repent. He needed no baptism of fire. He is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). But He submitted to baptism according to His Father’s will.

Verse 10 Immediately after Jesus was baptized, God the Father gave visible signs — the  heavens opening, the Spirit descending upon Jesus like a dove, and the Father’s words that this is His Son, and He is pleased. Again, Mark says to you, “This is the Christ, God the Son!”

Mark only briefly mentions the wilderness temptation of Christ, because it is not important to the central message of his particular testimony of Christ. (NOTE: It is believed that Mark’s gospel was actually dictated to Mark by Peter, so it is believed that the Book of Mark is Peter’s testimony.)

In Mark 1:14 and forward, we see what Christ’s ministry looks like:

— He preaches the gospel of God to you, as follows:
— Now is the time, the Kingdom of God is near (so close, you can touch the King)
— Repent and believe in the gospel
— When He selects you, there is no dawdling or hesitation. When He speaks, you drop everything and follow Him. And He will make you a fisher of men.

Why doesn’t Jesus form a new church, right then and there? It is not time. He must die and be raised, ascend and be glorified. Then the church begins.

So in Verse 21, Jesus goes to the synagogue at Capernaum, to teach His people (He is born to a Jewess, so in the natural, He is a Jew).

He teaches as one having authority (Mark 1:22). That’s exousia, superhuman power. The scribes know the scriptures right side up, upside down, backwards and forwards, but they do not know the God of the scriptures, so they have no power when they teach. It is dry and dead.  A good lesson. It is important to first know Him and be filled with His Spirit. Then you will have the power to teach His Word.

Note in Mark 1:24 that demons are quicker to recognize God than the synagogue officials. And note that driving out demons takes no effort at all on Jesus’ part. He speaks, and it must be done.

I hope you are getting this very important characteristic of Jesus. He says follow, and people must follow. He rebukes demons, and they must flee. Whatever He speaks must happen. Only God can do such things. So again, Mark cries, “Jesus is the Christ, God the Son!”

Verse 27 —Everyone is amazed that Jesus can do these things. That is because they see Him as a man, not God in the flesh. They spread the news of this Jesus.

Verse 29 — Just as soon as Jesus leaves the synagogue, He and the others come into Simon Peter’s house. Note that Simon’s mother-in-law is sick. Jesus takes her by the hand, and the fever leaves. She is instantly healed. Her response? Service. She serves them. That’s what happens when Jesus touches you — you immediately begin serving Him.

Verse 32-34 — All who were ill and demon-possessed were healed. It says “many” in Mark 1:34. That Greek word means “altogether.” As Matthew says in Matthew 4:24, He healed all who came or were brought to Him. No disease or demon is too powerful for Him.

Verse 35 — Note that Jesus goes off to pray by Himself. That’s important. He spends time with the Father while the rest are sleeping. It is His quiet time, where He communes with the Father and prepares for the next steps.

Verse 37 — Everyone looks for Jesus. It is not so true today. Few look for Him. Most are offended by Him, because He saves sinners, not those who think they are good.

Verse 38 — He moves on to other towns, preaching and casting out demons. How many Christian preachers do you know who do such things today? The church is in a fallen state.

Verse 40 and forward — There is a VERY important lesson for all of us. Lepers were forced to cry, “Unclean, unclean,” as they walked about, so no one would catch leprosy from them. He wants Jesus to make him clean, to heal his leprosy. He knows Jesus can do it — “You CAN make me clean.” He just isn’t sure it is God’s will.

Do not pray, “If you are willing, please heal me.” This is the VERY important lesson: He is willing — no ifs, ands, or buts. It is ALWAYS God’s will to heal. Note also that Jesus was moved with compassion — He literally was inwardly moved with pity.

Note that it does not take a long time for the leper to be healed. It happens immediately (Mark 1:42).

Now what’s this about the leper showing himself to the priest as a testimony? The Old Testament speaks of lepers being sent out into the desert. When they came back, the priest had to examine them and declare them healed.

Who healed them? Only God can heal leprosy. God healed them in the desert. This leper, by the fact that he is healed, is a testimony that God is here, and God has healed him of leprosy. Again, “Jesus is the Christ, God the Son!”

Why does Jesus tell him not to tell anyone but to go to the priests? Because He already knows how the Jewish leaders and priests will react. They will feel threatened. They will be jealous. They will come after Jesus. But Jesus knows the healed man will speak anyway.

How can I keep it a secret, when Jesus heals me?

The leper’s testimony draws people from all over. So will yours.