MARK 11 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 was broken by sin.

Chapters 11-16 show us Jesus Christ’s heart that is completely obedient to His mission to die for us, compared with a heart that rejects Him, and therefore rejects God the Father. There’s nothing about physical healing in these chapters, but there is much about what incurable disease ails our hearts, and how Jesus is able to heal us.

Verses 1-7 — These verses speak of God the Son’s omnipotence; that is, He knows what’s going to happen before it happens. Even though He was fully human when He walked the earth, He was also fully God, as we see from the works He does and displays like the one in these verses.

Jesus and His disciples are on the way to Jerusalem, where Jesus has told them He will be arrested, tried, and crucified, and then rise on the third day.

He tells them exactly where they are to go, exactly which young donkey to pick, and what to tell the people when they ask to borrow it — “the Lord has need of it.” And of course, the people gave them permission because of Jesus’ words. Jesus fulfills the scripture that prophesies about Him in Zechariah 9:9 by entering Jerusalem in this way.

IMPORTANT POINT: Jesus, who is God the Son, has all of God’s characteristics — He is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, who knows the end from the beginning. What does that mean? He knows everything that has been, is now, and will be. And so, He knows your need for forgiveness. He knows your need for salvation. He knows your need for healing. He knows your need for a changed heart. He knows your need for Him. But you must ask Him for that which you need.

It is humbling to have to ask someone for something. We live in a culture where independence is worshiped. But in the culture of the kingdom of God, to be great, you must become the servant of all. To be rich with His kind of riches, you must set all your earthly treasures aside. Everything seems upside down, when we look at the kingdom of God. But we are really the upside down ones — His kingdom is right side up!

Verses 8-10 — Jesus is worshiped as He comes into Jerusalem. This fulfills the scripture that prophesies about Him in Psalm 118:24-26. When we sing, “This is the day that the Lord has made,” and think it’s about any day, we miss it just a bit. That scripture is really about THE day that Christ came to Jerusalem to take up His cross and bear upon His own body our sins and the punishment we deserved.

It seems they are worshiping Him, but they are looking for an earthly king to set them free from Roman rule. A few days later, many of these will be among the crowd that cries, “Crucify Him!”

IMPORTANT QUESTION: Do you worship Him to get a blessing from Him, or to bless Him? If you do it to “get a blessing,” to be set free of an earthly chain or to get material prosperity or even get Him to physically heal you, that’s the wrong reason because it is selfish and manipulative. Worship Him because He is the Son of God. He is worthy!

Verses 12-14 — This looks like it doesn’t fit here, but if you go back and read what this chapter is about and understand the symbolism here, it will make sense. Jesus is hungry. He sees a fig tree, but when He looks for fruit, there is none. It isn’t the season for figs. He curses the tree — “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!”

IMPORTANT POINT: If our heart is not God’s, we cannot bear fruit for Him — the fruit that identifies us as belonging to Jesus. What is the fruit? We live as He does in this world, if our heart is God’s.

Jesus knows He will be rejected in Jerusalem. He must be rejected, In order to complete His mission. He is rejected because many Jewish hearts (especially the Jewish religious leaders and Pharisees) are not God’s, and they do not bear fruit. They are all leaves (outward appearance of godliness) and no fruit.

He chooses to look for figs out of season to make the point that there is no fruit of God-likeness among His people. Those who will soon be His judge and jury are prideful religious men whose hearts do not belong to God. And they are cursed unless they turn to Jesus.

Plants receive water and nourishment from their roots. Just as the roots of this fig tree die and dry up, then the whole fig tree dies (see verses 20-21), the roots of these men will dry up, and then they will die. Jerusalem was destroyed In 70 A.D., approximately 37 years after Jesus hung on that cross. All they knew and loved was burned to the ground, many died, and the rest were scattered. But the Jews will yet return to their God and recognize their Messiah (Romans 11:25-26).

Verses 15-18 — The hearts of the religious are so unlike God that they have turned His house into a den of robbers. They are thieves that plan their next caper in God’s house!

How do they rob? The priests have made a law that people must exchange their coins for Temple coins in order to give their tithes and offerings. The priests use weights rigged in their favor to weigh money brought to the Temple. The priests have also filled the house of God with animals and birds used for sacrifices, charging huge and unfair fees to purchase them.

They do business in God’s house to make money for themselves, but God’s house is supposed to be a place of prayer, worship, reverence, awe, and safety from evil like thievery. In their thievery, they misrepresent God’s nature and character.

So Jesus cleans house! He destroys and casts down all of the things they use to cheat people, and boldly calls them robbers!

God help us if we do the same today in His church, charging money for handkerchiefs or oil flasks that have been prayed over, robbing widows to fill the church’s coffers . . .

Verses 19-26 — We have already talked about the fig tree’s roots being withered, from the roots up. But when the disciples notice what has happened to the fig tree, Jesus tells them that if they have faith, whatever they ask for will be done. Verse 23 is used often, in the church. If you do not doubt and say to a mountain, “Be taken up and cast into the sea,” and believe it will be done, it will be done. So pray and ask —wait a minute, what happened to “say to the mountain?” Pray and ask before you say, and then believe you have received what you have asked for, and you will receive it.

BUT Jesus goes on to say that if you ask while you have something against someone (a grudge/unforgiveness), your prayer will not be answered. If you do not forgive them, Your Father in heaven (He’s speaking to Christians) will not forgive you (Matthew 6:14-15). What you did against your Father in heaven was many times worse than anything any human could do to you, and yet He forgave you. So you have no right to refuse to forgive. That’s why refusal to forgive is a sin.

And sin separates you from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). He does not hear sinners (John 9:31). Your prayer will not be answered until you forgive and repent before the Lord. He is ready and willing to forgive you then, and will then hear your prayers.

IMPORTANT POINT: Right now, ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and show you if you have unforgiveness or other sin in your heart. He will show it to you, just as He did me when I was desperate to know my Father in heaven. Forgive from your heart (really forgive, not just with empty words), and then ask your Father in heaven to forgive you. If the Holy Spirit shows you a different sin and you turn away from it completely and ask Your Father in heaven to forgive you, He will do it, and then He will hear your prayers.

Verses 27-33 — Again Jesus is challenged by the priests and scribes (lawyers of the law of Moses) and elders. They are spiritually blind, by their own doing, and do not see their Messiah. They want to maintain their position and power. Jesus is a threat to them. They hate Him and want to kill Him.

They question His authority to “clean house” in the Temple. But He answers them with a question. By what authority did John the Baptist call for repentance and baptize? They are caught red-handed. They had questioned and shunned John the Baptist. Now they were questioning and shunning Jesus.

Deep down, they know both John the Baptist preached repentance and baptized by God’s authority, and Jesus’ works could only be done by God and under God’s authority.  There is no other explanation for His wisdom and His miracles.

Notice their self-centeredness in the way they reason to arrive at an answer. What will happen if we say John received his authority from heaven? We are guilty, then, of rejecting one who was sent by God. And if we say he received his authority from men, the people will reject us, because they believe John was a prophet from God. It’s all about them — what will happen to us if we answer this way or that way?

So they say, “We do not know.” Of course they do! And yet they deny it. So Jesus says, if you don’t believe John’s authority was from God, and I have done much more than John, why would you believe My authority comes from God? You will reject Me just as you rejected him. So I will not tell you where My authority comes from. He knows they already know very well where His authority comes from.

IMPORTANT POINT: When people are doing works that only God can do, and speaking and living like Jesus in this world, the spiritually blind will question their authority. The blind will see them as threats to their own man-made authority, to their positions of power, and will want to somehow shut them down. But if you see and are not blind, you will gladly receive them as messengers from God who are working under His authority.

And God will bless you for it!

 

MAGNIFYING GLASSES

[SW166] 12/27/2014 message notes by Sister Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“Magnifying Glasses”

NOTE:  These sermon notes are brief, but you can go to the Youtube link to the right of this blog to watch the message.

When I was first filled with the Holy Spirit and was learning to walk in the Spirit, my mentor and pastor, David “Doc” Uber, came to me with a word from God. He said, “The Lord says you are to be transparent but not invisible.” I asked, “What does that mean?”
He said, “I have no idea!”

So I prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to explain the riddle to me. I write in my journal nearly every day, during my early morning devotional time. One day, as I wrote, a lightbulb went off — the Holy Spirit showed me that a magnifying glass is transparent, but not invisible. You can see its frame and its handle, but the magnifying part is transparent! The Lord told me I was to be His magnifying glass, and it is true for each one who says they follow Jesus Christ, beloved.

Text: 2 Samuel 7:10-11, 22, 25-26

God made David a house, and David’s response was one of humility, humbleness and contriteness before God. Who am I? I am nothing, yet you have chosen to make me a house. It is true of all of us who realize that God wants to come and dwell in our hearts, as Jesus speaks in John 14:23! We realize our littleness, and His greatness.

David goes on to proclaim the Lord’s greatness — and in Verse 25-26, David shows us the purpose of making him a house — so the name of the Lord would be magnified forever. Think of the many Psalms written by David, in which he speaks and sings of the Lord’s greatness! He will do the same in us, when we realize He wants to make us a house and come and dwell in us! We, too, will become His magnifying glasses!

Another voice of a magnifying glass is heard in Paul, in Philippians 3:7-14, and Galatians 2:20. There is a cost to becoming a magnifying glass. You must realize your littleness to see His greatness. You must die to the “old you” so He can live through you. And you must see that all good works and great accomplishments are as dung, compared to knowing Jesus Christ intimately. You must utterly reject your old life in order to have His life. But when you do, He makes your life GLORIOUS, filling you with His glory, His mightiness, His weightiness, and you cannot contain yourself — you must proclaim all that He has done, all that He is, all that He will do for anyone who will come to Him!

But beloved, some of you sit under teaching that says Jesus is small, that He worried, that he was depressed, that He was unsure. I have heard this in messages from leaders of denominations, from professors, from preachers! I have heard that Jeremiah was bipolar, and that other prophets were delusional. God help us!

Rather than becoming magnifying glasses who declare the greatness of God, these voices look at him through the wrong end of binoculars, and have miniaturized God!!!

Do not listen to them! Run from them! Find one who has become a magnifying glass, and listen and heed and do what the Word of God says.

Ask God to make you a house for His immensity, and you will become His magnifying glass!

HOT PURSUIT

What is God looking for? Heat! Zeal! Intense enthusiasm and passion, to an excessive degree!

[SW148] 08/01/2014 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“Hot Pursuit”

Zeal (2204, zeo) — To be hot, to boil (of liquids), or to glow (of solids), i.e., to be be fervid, be fervent. To be intensely enthusiastic or passionate, to an excessive degree!

Zeal for His house consumes me, as it did Paul, as it did Christ (see Psalm 69, John 2:17)!

And I am in hot pursuit, to know Him more and more and more, to be more and more and more like Him!

Heat me until I glow, Lord!!

Text:  Philippians 3:14, Jeremiah 1 & 2

A little history on Paul (Hebrew name “Saul”) —
— “Successful”
— BUT he murdered Christians (Acts 26:10)

When he was stricken by the Lord (Acts 9)
— He deeply repented,
— His blind eyes were opened, he was filled with the Spirit!
— A new kind of ZEAL came into Paul; not the foolish zeal of a Pharisee, but fired up by the Spirit with HOLY ZEAL!
— All his prior “success”? Dung, to him!

Oh, to know Him! To have holy intimacy, a relationship where He speaks to you and you to Him! Sitting at the table with the Father and Son and Holy Spirit!

Pressing on! Running (1 Corinthians 9:26)!

Hot pursuit! Beyond Christ in us, the hope of glory! Full of His glory, His zeal!

And Paul finished the race (2 Timothy 4:7-8)!

But what is this that I see today, among Christians?

Thus says the Lord, to the church at Laodicea:

Revelation 3:15  “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot;  I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will  spit you out of My mouth.
Revelation 3:19 “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.”

If you do repent as He commands, if you ask for pure gold refined by the fire, white garments, and eye salve, you will surely be rich in Him, clothed with Him, and able to see Him.

You will, like Paul, die to all you are so Christ can rule and reign in you.

You will be filled with the Spirit, if you but ask your Father (Luke 11:13).

And then you will have God’s fiery, holy zeal for those who do not know His Son, and for His church, to see to it that she is not found wanting by Him!

Jeremiah 1:

Tuesday night, I think it was, I was about to drop off to sleep, and I saw a picture. I described it to Jeff, because sometimes he is able to interpret what I see. But he had no interpretation this time.

I thought, “Maybe it was nothing.” But when I get a picture out of the clear blue, it is usually from the Lord.

Thursday morning I was fasting, praying, reading the Word. I continually read through the Bible, and had come to Jeremiah 1.

The Lord said, “What did you see?”

I saw an old man with a very long beard that came to a point at its end. He was sitting in a chair, but not straight up, and his eyes were cast down.

You have seen well,” the Lord says.
“It is My church.

“Rather than being full of My holy zeal and my life and my vigor, the church is old (the long beard) and has had to sit down because she is tired. She cannot even sit up straight, and she is looking down, rather than up, toward Me.”

Jeremiah 2:

But the Lord also says this, O church: “If you will return to the love of your betrothals, and follow after Me in the wilderness, I will surely bring you into the Promised Land!
“You are in this condition because of who you listen to. My Word is your plumb line, and nothing else.”

Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.

“So repent. Return, O faithless sons, and I will heal your unfaithfulness (Jeremiah 3:22). Remember Me, look up toward Me. And I will revive you!”

GO TO THE LOST

When Jesus says, “Go to the lost sheep,” it is a command, and we are compelled by the power of His words to do it!

[SW144] 07/05/2014 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“Going to the Lost”

Text: Matthew 10:1-8, 14-15, 40-42

We are compelled to go after a single lost sheep until we find it, and then bring it back, rejoicing. We are compelled to light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully for a single lost coin until we find it (see Luke 15). Then we and all heaven rejoice!

Going to the lost. Many in today’s church think He is saying, “Go to those who do not believe in Me,” but Jesus says, “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel!”
God’s people? Lost? It is the same now as it was then. Many of God’s people were and are lost sheep.

Today, Jesus not only commands us to go to the lost sheep of Israel who do not see that He is their Messiah, but also to go to the lost sheep of the church.

Notice that the disciples did not question Jesus (What do You mean? We do not see any lost ones!). Nope. They knew there were lost sheep in Israel.

What signs do I see that there are lost sheep within today’s church? Many sheep in the church are:
— distressed     — oppressed     — depressed
— confused        — compromised     — afraid
Or worse:
— lulled to sleep OR
— slaves to sin, when Jesus came to set us free, indeed!

Why are the sheep lost? Do they not have apostles and prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11)?

Israel had priests and experts in the law of Moses, but Jesus found fault with them. He declared to them that they did many things to misguide His people.

He finds fault with the leaders of today’s church, too, who do many things to misguide His people.

Lamentations 2:14  Your prophets have seen for you
                False and foolish visions;
                And they have not exposed your iniquity
                So as to restore you from captivity,
                But they have seen for you false and misleading  oracles.

We should not be surprised. Jesus spoke of false shepherds, wolves among the flock (Verse 16). There were wolves in sheep’s clothing within the fledgling church (Acts 20:29-31).

But we in today’s church have not been on guard as Paul commanded by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in Acts 20:29.

And the people are biblically illiterate and therefore cannot discern — few know the Word of God. They are sheep that do not know the Good Shepherd’s voice.

As a result, they follow the voice of strangers, and even love it, as in Jeremiah’s day:

Jeremiah 5:31 The  prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule on their own authority; And My people love it so!

What can be done? We obey the command of Jesus Christ, and go to them!

What does He give us as we go to the lost sheep of the church?

(Not as we sit, but as we go!)

In Matthew 10:1, He gives us authority over evil spirits to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness (also see Luke 10:19).

Why does He give us such authority? So people will know the kingdom of heaven draws near!

He commands us that as we go, we are to preach, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He commands us to preach repentance (Mark 6:12).

Then the authority comes into play, as the evidence that the kingdom of heaven is near: we heal, raise, cleanse and cast out.

These are the accompanying signs (Mark 16:17), the attesting miracles that show the lost sheep that God and Christ are the true reality and not just philosophical ideas to which they give mental assent.

But we cannot preach that the kingdom of heaven is at hand unless the kingdom of heaven is in our midst — within us. And when the kingdom of heaven is within us, we will have His authority, and we will heal, raise, cleanse and cast out.

FREELY we have received, and FREELY we give (Verse 8).

What do we FREELY give? FREEdom to the captives (Isaiah 61), to the lost sheep of the church!

We do it not give in our own power or by man’s wisdom, but in God’s power and wisdom and might! The Spirit of the Lord God is upon us!

What will be the result of our going to seek the lost sheep of the church? One of two things will happen, Jesus says:

#1 — We will not be received, and so we must do as He commands in Verse 14. Beloved, this will happen much in today’s backslidden church. It happened to Christ Himself, as He walked the earth! The consequence:
15 “Truly I say to you,  it will be more tolerable for the land of  Sodom and Gomorrah in  the day of judgment than for that city.”

#2 — We will be received, welcomed, accepted, and those who do it will receive a reward:
Matthew 10:40   “ He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.
41 “ He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet [that is, as a prophet sent by the Lord] shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man [that is, a righteous man made righteous by the Lord] shall receive a righteous man’s reward.
42 “And  whoever in the name of a disciple [as a disciple of Christ] gives to one of these little ones [prophets and righteous men] even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” [my interpretation in brackets]

Beloved, I am praying for today’s church to receive those whom Jesus is sending out even now.

I am praying that the lost sheep of the church will be found and carried back with rejoicing.

I am praying that the lost coin will be found and cause great rejoicing, in heaven and on the earth!

I am praying that many in the church will ask for the kingdom of heaven to be within them — that is, asking for God the Father to fill them with His Holy Spirit.

THEN they will receive authority. THEN they will proclaim that the kingdom of heaven has drawn near and their hearers must repent.

And I am expecting to see the attesting signs.

Amen, Lord. Let it be so!

Rebuilding – Consecrated and Cleansed

[SW143] 06/28/2014 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“Rebuilding the Church — Consecrated and Cleansed”

Always when I preach, it is as much a message to be worked in my own heart as it is one that is to be delivered to you. And that is so today!

I tell you, He who has begun a good work in you will perfect it until Christ comes (Philippians 1:6)! So let the work begin, Lord, in me, in your church, in all believers!

“God’s work!” we say, as He consecrates us and we are baptized in water as a sign of it.

“God’s work!” we cry, as He cleanses our hearts and fills us with His holiness, bringing us into holy intimacy with Him!

In Nehemiah 12:27-30, the completed wall was dedicated, and the priests purified themselves.

It was God’s work.

It began with Nehemiah’s intercession, seeking the Lord’s heart and petitioning Him on behalf of His distressed people.

We have talked about the steps that follow. Now we are at the conclusion.

The dedication of the wall in today’s passage was an outward act done as a sign of an inward conviction, a recognition on Israel’s part that the wall they had worked on was God’s wall, and it was completed only by His provision.

It is like that when we are baptized under the new covenant (God’s promise fulfilled), the one Jesus instituted. We are God’s workmanship:

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

We could not save ourselves. He saved us and bought us with a price (1Corinthians 6:20) — the blood of His Son.

We acknowledge we are God’s, and no longer our own. He wants us to be His. He wants us to be His children. He made us for that purpose. Step into that purpose!

Just as with the dedication of the wall, baptism yields worship — gladness, thanksgiving, and songs of praise!

Then came the purification of the priests, the people, the gates and the wall  (Verse 30). It was outward, it was external — they performed a cleansing ritual established through Moses.

Under the new covenant, God Himself cleanses us inwardly, purifying our hearts so they are wholly His.

When Jesus walked the earth, He chose His disciples, setting them apart to Himself. And He does that with us today. But then He said (and still says today), “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” (see Matthew 5:48).

Peter repeated God’s call when he quoted Leviticus 11:44ff in 1 Peter 1:14-16, “As children of obedience, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves in all your behavior, because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’”

We are consecrated and set apart with water baptism.

But there is a greater work, one that makes us more than conquerors in Christ Jesus, victors who are no longer slaves to sin:

Malachi 3:3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

If we do not ask for the greater work to be done, we will be as Eliashib, inviting Tobiah (the ways of the world) in, and finding that he displaces everything that feeds worship in us (see Nehemiah 13).

We will be as those who went out and married the world (13:23ff).

We will violate the Sabbath (13:15ff), Christ’s sabbatismos (Hebrews 4:9), the true Sabbath rest of God, where we rest from our own works.

We will distance ourselves from our God by continuing to willfully disobey him (Isaiah 59:2).

But if both consecration AND cleansing are done, then we will hear the Holy Spirit say, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul” (Acts 13:2). These are the keys to effective service.

He will continue to mold and shape us as we go, but our hearts will be ever willing and not resistant.

The church as a whole and we individually must let Him to a complete work in us, consecrating ourselves to Him 100% and asking Him to purify our hearts.

Then the rebuilding of the church (and you and me) will be complete.

Our cry must be as David’s in Psalm 51:10-13.

Then we will hear and walking the way He continues to show us (Isaiah 30:21), obedient from our hearts.