They Could Not Tame Him

Mark 4:36
“When they had left the multitude . . .”

Mark 4 ends with the story of a dangerous journey on which Jesus took His disciples. Knowing all things, He knew they would face a storm on the sea. He knew this storm would be so great that those who had grown up fishing those waters, and experiencing rough conditions, would fear for their very lives. However, it is not until we venture into Mark 5 that we understand the reason for the journey was just one man. Jesus left the multitudes and took twelve men on a death-defying trip across dangerous waters, in order to reach this one man. Multitudes were flocking to Him, but in the country of the Gadarenes, a man was in need. This becomes even more amazing when we understand who this man was. We read of him,

“. . .who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him.” Mark 5:3-4

As sad as that description is, I am struck by the final phrase, “neither could anyone tame him.” Tame him! What a word. It seems so out-of-place to be used of a man. It is a word I reserve for animals; yet, it is so appropriate for this man. His lifestyle, whatever that was, had ruined his life. The world had done all they could do to help, but to no avail. He was now chained in a graveyard, and people simply avoided him. That is, until Jesus, not only went out of His way to rescue this man, but took His disciples on a trip they would never forget, for the purpose of saving this one lost soul.

When the story ends, we find the man in His right mind, sent out to tell His friends what Jesus had done for Him. No doubt, he would explain how Jesus crossed a turbulent sea to save him. Let’s learn the lesson the disciples were meant to learn: Jesus places the highest value on the human soul, even if he is living like a wild animal.

Pastor Jim.

Who Cares

Jonah 4:10-11
But the Lord said, ‘You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?'”

Over the past year we have seen summits on global warming, protests against the cruelty to animals, and the unjust treatment of certain groups of individuals. It is clear that people feel justified in demanding the ethical treatment of the planet and its inhabitants. While it is clear that we bear a responsibility before God for the way we treat what He has given us to care for, it is also true, we can become consumed with other things and forget that the most valuable, and often most neglected resource in the world, is the human soul. Jonah wept over the mistreatment of a plant and cared little for the eternal souls of the inhabitants of Nineveh.

We, like Jonah, have been commissioned by God to declare a message of salvation to the world. This message is so powerful it carries the ability to save a person from eternal destruction, while at the same time, transforming their lives. Jonah watched it happen to hundreds of thousands of people in Nineveh. When he shared the gospel, the king, his colleagues, and the inhabitants of the city turned from their evil ways and began to worship YHWH. The Gospel we have been commissioned to share is no less powerful. Paul said it alone has the power to bring salvation and Peter called it the words of eternal life. Along with this powerful message, we have also been given the supply of the Spirit of Christ. When the gospel is declared, the Spirit of God convicts the heart of the hearer of their need for God.

I wonder if we, like Jonah, have become distracted by caring for lesser things, while neglecting the most important thing? Perhaps it is time we spent a little more time caring about the souls of our neighbors, co-workers, and friends than we do about whether TiVo recorded our favorite show or who is the quarterback for our favorite sports team. Jonah’s failure was caring about the wrong things, while neglecting the most important thing.

Pastor Jim

 

He Is Praying For You

John 17:9
I pray for them.”

Perhaps the best title for John 17 is, “The Lord’s Prayer.” As the hour of His betrayal, arrest, and crucifixion approaches, Jesus takes time to pray for His disciples. His prayer, while encompassing many things, seems to focus upon three thoughts.

First, Jesus prays for His followers that they may be one. Division within the body of Christ has been one of the most confusing things for the unbelieving world. If Christians all believe in the same God, are washed in the same blood, and filled with the same Spirit, then why is there so much division in the church? Some division is good. Worship styles are different. It is good to have lots of variety within the church in order to provide an atmosphere where people are able to connect with God. Also, cultures are different, and to some degree, the church should be relevant to the culture, in order to win souls to Christ. That being said, much of the division in the church is wrong and harmful. The church fights with itself over petty differences and misunderstandings. It is as if we believed that our church is the only real church. Thank God, Jesus is praying for us.

Second, Jesus prays for His followers, that we might be kept from evil. Christianity would be so much easier if the moment we made a decision to follow Christ, we were translated from this life into eternity. It would be easy to know who the true believers were, because they would be gone. It would be easy to give up the temptations of life, because we would be in Heaven. It would, however, make evangelism very difficult, because there would be no one left to share Christ. Jesus prays for us, that we would withstand the temptations of life. It encourages me to know that He faced what we face, and He overcame through the power of the Word of God, and the Spirit of God in His daily life.

Finally, His prayer is like a commission. In it, He makes mention of the fact that He is sending us into the world. We, His church, are His solution for reaching the lost. Later, He makes it clear that we are fully equipped when He states,

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:18-19

We are sent into the world with the authority of Jesus, the blessing of the Father, and the empowering of the Spirit. As you go forth today, keep in mind, Jesus is praying for you, that you might be kept as you go.

Pastor Jim

 

Freedom

Deuteronomy 15:16-17
“And if it happens that he says to you, ‘I will not go away from you,’ because he loves you and your house, since he prospers with you, then you shall take an awl and thrust it through his ear to the door, and he shall be your servant forever. Also to your female servant you shall do likewise.”

 Even in ancient times, life was often difficult. Conditions, beyond the control of an individual, would leave him in a place where he could not pay his debts. To address this issue, God set up a system in Israel where a person could become an indentured servant for a period of seven years. During this time the work done by the individual was treated as payment for the debt owed. At the end of seven years his debt was considered as paid-in- full and he was set free. This was called the year of release, and when it arrived the servant was set free and loaded up with provisions to begin a new lease on life.

In addition to writing out the rules for the year of release, Moses also explained a very interesting clause. If a person did not want to be set free, they could willingly offer themselves into continued servitude. He would show his commitment by having his ear pierced with an awl. It might seem odd to us why a person would willingly accept servitude over freedom, but the reason for it is explained in the text;

“If he says I will not go away from you, because he loves you and your house, since he prospers with you. . .”

A person would choose servitude over freedom because of the way they were treated by their master. If they realized they actually had more freedom and a better living by being under their master than they ever would on their own, they would remain a slave.

This is a good example of what is true of the follower of Christ. Living for Jesus demands a surrender of our will. It is actually impossible to follow Jesus, if we do not lay down our will. While that may be a difficult thing for us to do, the result is, we get to pick His will up. God always has better things in mind for us than we do. Paul, quoting Isaiah wrote,

1 Corinthians 2:9
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

To those who knew Him best, it was clear that the height of life would be found, not in keeping our will, but by submitting ourselves, our life, and our ways completely to God.

Let’s drive that figurative awl through our ears, and devote ourselves completely as servants of Christ.

 

Pastor Jim