A MAN OF PATIENCE, PRAYER AND PROVISION
In our last study we saw the religious leaders become very unhappy with Jesus for healing a man who had a withered hand. The reason they were mad was Jesus did this on the Sabbath Day. Although Jesus did not break any law, and the reality is the need of man supercedes any ceremonial law, but Jesus broke the law they came up with regarding the Sabbath Day, not what God said. You see, Jesus came to do good and make this man whole, while the religious leaders were there doing evil, plotting to murder Jesus on the Sabbath Day! Anytime a person is bound under the law, that is what will be manifested in their lives and there will be no joy in them. That is where we left off last time, and so lets begin reading in Mark chapter 3, starting in verse 7.
1. Jesus leaves the Synagogue and goes to the Sea of Galilee. The reason He did was the growing numbers of people that came to see Him. Thousands upon thousands were coming from Jerusalem, to Idumea in the South, people east of the Jordan River, and way up in the north, the areas of Tyre and Sidon. Now with all this fame, all this attention that Jesus was getting, how do you think the religious leaders felt? Im sure they were angry, and as we have already seen, they are plotting to kill Jesus, even working with the Herodians whom they were at odds with!
2. As word spread of what Jesus was doing, what do you think happened? Anyone who was sick, their family members, friends, were now coming to Jesus to be healed. And for many, it was a long journey. And besides the great numbers of people that were pressing in upon Jesus, each one wanted to touch Jesus, to hold onto Him, which of course was a problem and very dangerous as we are going to see in verse 9.
1. Jesus is asking for a get away boat just in case it gets too dangerous. He didnt want to be crushed like a grape nor did He want any of the people to get hurt. So just in case, one of His disciples, possibly Peter, for Mark is the only one that mentions this, and Mark is writing from what Peter told him, and this disciple was just following Jesus along the shore line with this little boat in case Jesus had to exit quickly.
1. Picture what is going on here. As the people gathered around Jesus, embracing Him with outstretched arms, and as Jesus healed them, things must have gone nuts. Can you imagine the first few people to be healed by Jesus. As they scream out "Im healed! Im healed!" the crowds are going to press in upon Jesus even harder so they may cling to Him and be healed.
2. And you really cant blame the people. Imagine going to doctors who give you no hope, and then you hear of a man named Jesus who is healing people along the Sea of Galilee. What are you going to do? Get in your four-wheel drive camel and head over to Jesus to touch Him and be healed. He was their last hope for many of them. And some traveled some 100 miles to get to Him, but what else could they do?
1. Not only were those who were physically sick pressing upon Jesus, but those who were demon possessed. And as Jesus is walking, or more likely moving very slowly through the crowd, He comes upon these people who are demon possessed and they are hitting the ground before Him. I think you can understand why Jesus wanted a boat on standby, things were already wild!
2. Now was this the main purpose for Jesus coming, to heal people physically? No, not at all. Jesus used miracles to authenticate His ministry, to show the people who He was, that He was the fulfillment of what the Old Testament prophets spoke of regarding the Messiah, and He did have compassion on the people. But, as we are told in Mark 1:14-15, "Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." That is what Jesus came for. To heal people spiritually. He brought them good news, that men who repent of their sins and come to Him, their sins will be forgiven them. That is what Jesus came to do, to point people back to God and provide a way to God through Him.
3. Tragically that was not the reason people were coming to Jesus. The crowds were coming to be healed physically, they didnt care about the good news, that Jesus is the Messiah. Thousands upon thousands gathered around Jesus, but there was not huge results in people turning to God, repenting of their sins. Remember the 10 lepers who were cleansed of their leprosy, cleansed physically. How many turned to God and were cleansed spiritually? Only one recognized Jesus and repented of his sins. In John chapter 6, after Jesus feeds the 5,000, and that was probably just the men, the crowds could have been 15 to 20 thousand, and Jesus crosses over the Sea of Galilee, and the people track Him down. But they did not come to receive forgiveness of their sins, that Jesus is the Son of God, but starting in verse 26 Jesus tells us the reason. We read "Jesus answered them and said, Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him." John 6:26-27. Their eyes were closed to the things of God, they were more interested in satisfying their fleshly needs.
4. Was Jesus used by the people for their own personal needs? I guess so. The interesting thing is that Jesus still reached out to them, trying to meet their needs. He desired to touch the lives of those around Him, even though not many responded. After 3 ½ years of preaching and teaching how many were in the upper room on the day of Pentecost? Only 120! Obviously there were more believers around, for in I Corinthians 15 we are told that Jesus appeared to 500 brethren. But with the thousands upon thousands He ministered to and touched, only a small number truly received Him into their lives.
5. How did Jesus handle all these pressures, all these disappointments? Verse 13 tells us.
1. Luke gives us a few more details of this time. In Luke 6:12 we read "Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God." Jesus solution was to head for the hills, not to run away and hide, but to spend time alone with the Father to be refreshed and guided. And as He finished, the Father spoke to Him regarding 12 men who He was to pour His life into, men who were to carry on the ministry after He was gone.
1. As Jesus calls these 12, notice that there are three primary things that were to be done with them. First they were to spend time with Jesus, some 3 ½ years learning from the Master. Secondly, that He may send them out to preach the truths of God to a world in darkness. And lastly they will be empowered by God to heal peoples lives. These men were disciples of Jesus, which means they were "learners." But these 12 are now called apostles, which means "sent ones." They were sent out by God to share the good news and the miracles were a sign that authenticated their ministry. Paul, in Ephesians 2:19-22 said, "Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit." The apostles also helped to lay the foundation for the church to be built upon, we call it the New Testament. Not all the apostles wrote books in the New Testament, but they carried the doctrines from area to area.
2. Here are the men that Jesus picked to assist Him in the work. The Father gave them to Jesus as Jesus spent all night in prayer with Him. John 17:6 says "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word." So how did He do? Lets find out!
1. When you look at these guys, they are not really the guys you would pick on your team. These would be the guys nobody wants. First of all they had no spiritual insight. They never got it. They were confused most of the time about what Jesus was saying. In Matthew chapter 15 Jesus gets done teaching and Peter says "Explain this parable to us." They didnt get it. And Jesus says "...Are you also still without understanding?" Matthew 15:16. Jesus picked them, they were the guys, and they didnt have a clue to what Jesus was saying. Do you think He went back to the Father and said "Are you sure its these guys?"
In Luke chapter 18 Jesus tells the 12 in a private meeting that He is going to Jerusalem, He will be put to death and on the third day He will rise again. Guess what? They didnt get it!
In John chapter 14 Jesus tells His men that He is the way, the truth and the life, and that no one can come before the Father except through Him. And Philip steps in and says, and Ill paraphrase it, "Excuse me Jesus, but I dont get it. Who is the Father? Show Him to us!" And Jesus says "...Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, Show us the Father?" John 14:9.
Do you think Jesus didnt hear the Father correctly? Maybe these were the guys He wasnt suppose to call! These guys were not rocket scientists. Im sure their SAT scores and ACT scores were low. What a problem for Jesus. How did He solve it? By patiently teaching them and not only with words but by example, by the way He lived His life. And this went on day after day, all the way to the cross!
2. Not only were they not too bright, but they were not very humble either. In Mark chapter 9 Jesus speaks once again of His death, and once again they didnt get it. And beginning in verse 33 we read "Then He came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road? But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest." Mark 9:33-34. Jesus was speaking of His death, and they were arguing about who was going to be the greatest in the kingdom!
On the night of the last supper, Jesus announces that one of His 12 men is going to betray Him. They had no clue to who it was and then went on fighting who was the greatest! (Luke 22:21-24).
Not only that, but the sons of thunder, James and John, got their mother to go to Jesus and ask for a place of honor in the kingdom, to sit on the right hand and on the left hand of Jesus. Places of authority! And when the other apostles heard this, they were angry, probably because they didnt think of asking their mom to go and do it first! (Matthew 20:20-24).
3. The third thing they lacked was faith. Over and over again we see Jesus say of them, "Ye of little faith." In Mark chapter 4, Jesus and His men are going to take a boat across the Sea of Galilee. And He tells them in Mark 4:35, "...Let us cross over to the other side." And as they began to cross, Jesus fell asleep and a strong storm came upon them. It was so bad that the boat began to sink. They thought they were dead ducks at this point. And remember, some of these guys were fishermen, and if they are scared, things are not looking good! You know you are in trouble!
And they became angry with Jesus, woke Him up and said "...Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?" Mark 4:38. And so Jesus awakens, wipes the sleep from His eyes, and calms the storm and says to His men "...Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?" Mark 4:40. Jesus said they had no faith, why? Because Jesus told them they were crossing over to the other side, not UNDER!
Again, looking at these guys, you can easily get discouraged. Not only were they not bright, not humble, and lacked faith, but the mixture of these guys together was like a ticking time bomb! One example is Matthew, a tax collector for Rome, hated by the Jews. And then Simon the Zealot. The Zealots were a group of people, very radical group, who would go around with these small daggers and plunge them into Roman soldiers, because they hated Rome, and they were trying to free themselves from the yoke of Rome, one man at a time.
And yet, with all their differences, with all their frailties, with all their weaknesses, God was able to use them to spread the Gospel and train up others to do so. And within 30 years of the death and resurrection of Jesus the Gospel was spread throughout the whole known world!
4. Now as we bring this study to an end, I want you to listen to this letter that might have been returned to Jesus as He sought to pick 12 men to carry on this work.
TO: Jesus, son of Joseph, Woodcrafter
Carpenters shop, Nazareth
FROM: Jordan Management Consultants
Thank you for submitting the resumes of the twelve men you have picked for management positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests. We have not only run the results through our computer, but also arranged personal interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultant. It is the staffs opinion that most of the nominees are lacking in background, education and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue your search for persons of experience in managerial ability and proven capability.
Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers James and John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale. We feel that it is our duty to tell you that Matthew has been blacklisted by the greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau. James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus definitely have radical leanings and they both registered a high score on the manic depressive scale.
One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind and has contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right-hand man.
All of the other profiles are self-explanatory. We wish you every success in your new venture.
Jordan Management Consultants
5. As you read this, it is the way the world does things. God does not pick His people that way. And as you look at the inabilities of these men, it should give us all great hope. Yes, with men these things are impossible, but with God all things are possible! God is not looking for ability, but availability!