Tag Archives: Mark

Morning Thoughts (Mark 5:3)

imageMark 5:3, “Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:”

This morning, wildness streams across the world. Sinful pleasures and appetites are pursued more manifestly than perhaps at any other time in history. Surely dark periods have plagued this globe from time to time, and we are living in such a time. People are consumed with self, and without regard to anyone else, they do what they want regardless of the consequences or damages. Marriages are being wrecked on every hand by infidelity, homes are shattering apart from lack of guidance from parents to children, and society is laying foundation blocks everywhere for people to rebel against common decency. If there was ever a time when people called evil something good, good something evil, etc. it is this time.

Our study verse gives a small portion of the description of the man commonly referred to as the “Wild Gadarean.” He lived in the land of the Gadarenes, was plagued by a legion of devils, and had a miserable existence as one of the wildest of human beings. Notice the two things mentioned in our verse. 1. He dwelt among the tombs and 2. He could not be bound with chains. Trying to frame this man in my mind’s eye, it is hard to visualize what a sight he must have been! Later in the lesson (after Christ has cast the legion of devils out of him), he is called “clothed” and in his “right mind.” No doubt, on top of being a wild man, he spent most all of his time naked.

Sometimes it is difficult for us to read portions like this and get the scope of the setting since we have no basis of comparison. Have any of us met a wild man like this? I freely confess that I have not, but doubtless others have dealt with wild men in their lives that were just uncontrollable to any reasonable degree. However, all of us have encountered a situation in ourselves much like the description of this wild man. Every one of us – without exception – has personal knowledge with something that is just as wild, uncontrollable, and associated with death as this man was. While we are going to pass from direct discussion of this man at this point (and focus on some details of his existence), I would like to briefly point out that this account is not some nice fable to tell children like a fantasy, fairy tale. This man literally had this condition, and the Lord just as literally freed him from that miry existence.

So what is there that is common to every one of us that has an association with death (living among the tombs) and is completely uncontrollable (cannot be bound with chains)? James tells us in chapter 3 (particularly verse 5) what a problem the tongue can be. Though it is so small in size, it kindles great and powerful fires. Just like the tiller of a great ship or a bit on a powerful steed, small things can turn the entire course of greater things. So also our tongues can turn our entire lives and bodies in directions that we may never have thought possible. James goes on to say in verse 8 that no man can tame the tongue. Just as some beasts of the earth are tamable while others are not, so the tongue is like the untamable beast that must be caged with no recourse.

Furthermore, the tongue resides in a portion of the body that Scripture declares completely associated with death. In Romans 3 (particularly verses 10-18) Paul gives us a litany of problems with man’s original, fallen nature. In that cadaver description of man’s body, he uses terms like the throat being “an open sepulchre.” He calls our throat no different than an open grave, and further says the “poison of asps” is under our lips. Right in the middle is the tongue that uses “deceit” or lying. So, the entire region around the tongue is like an open grave with nothing but lies and poison streaming out. Friends, that is our condition originally, and without the grace and power of Almighty God, that would always be our condition.

So, our tongues – like the Wild Gadarean – are associated with death and completely untamable. The question now becomes what about after regeneration? Cannot we do better now? The answer is yes we can! Do we always? No, sadly we do not. Refer back to James 3 this time noting verses 9-11. James compares our tongue to a fountain sending forth sweet and bitter water at the same source. Why? Because with the same source (tongue) we bless God and curse man. With the same tongue that we use to offer and utter praise to the King Almighty, we also say some of the vilest and most profane things to others in our existence here. James plainly says that this ought not so to be. Yet, such is the case with us. Why? Because even after regeneration, we are not wholly removed from our old nature. We still carry sin like a weight that plagues us as a ball and chain would. Praise be unto God that we are delivered from the crippling and mortal power of it, but we still deal with the presence of it.

Moving along in the story of the wild man’s deliverance, we see that by the time the town came out to see the sight, the man was completely tame and no longer living in a grave. Why? Because he was at Jesus’ feet. He further beseeched the Lord to follow him but was rather admonished to go home to his acquaintance and “tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.” (Verse 19) Friends, the only way to tame these wicked tongues of ours is to seek to sit at the feet of Jesus. Hear Him and listen to Him. Give up the death and dying things of this world, and not heed our own ways or the inclinations of seducing spirits in this old world.

No doubt the aching soul of the child of God yearns to be with Jesus at this moment in heaven. However, right now, it is needful in the flesh to abide with His children shewing how great things God has done for us and has had compassion on us. When we see one that has a bridle on this tongue and does not allow his words to carry his life into the graves of the world, we see one that God has had compassion and imparted great power of deliverance unto them. Friends, as long as we live in this world, we need to be telling how great things He has done for and to us. How do we tell things? We use the tongue that by nature is so wild and deathly and rather fit it to use as a living member of praise and thanksgiving in His service. One day we will follow Him into those shining portals of the world of forever. Until then, may people see us as clothed, in our right minds, and desiring to be at the feet of Jesus with His people in this world.

In Hope,

Bro Philip

Morning Thoughts (Mark 9:17-18)

Mark 9:17-18, "And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not."

This morning, many things in the world can lead us into unbelief.  Sometimes we encounter people that show unbelief due to unresolved emotional problems – perhaps they are still enraged over something that happened years ago that they have not ever gotten over emotionally.  Still others engage in unbelief as they are dealing with emotional turmoil that has sprung up rather quickly – they begin thinking rashly as the emotional onset has sprung upon them rather quickly.  Yet others practice unbelief because they emphasize the wrong details in a situation – they judge evidence improperly.  In the study verses above, we read about a man that came to the Lord dealing with all three things.  While he approached Christ thinking that only his son needed help, Christ pointed out his unbelief before dealing with his son's problem.

The passage before us relates an account of a man whose son is possessed with a dumb spirit.  This spirit makes the child do things of a crazed nature: foaming, tearing about, etc.  Putting ourselves in this father's situation for a moment, how would such a family situation affect us?  Would we react in anger?  Would we react in helplessness?  Personally, I cannot imagine the emotional turmoil this man must have been under watching his son in such a pitiful condition.  Doubtless, we have all either seen or read about people who blamed God for mental and/or physical afflictions in their immediate families.  The commonly repeated question by these people is, "Why would God allow this to happen to me and my family?"  Emotional duress can make us react improperly and not exercise the faith-sense that God should receive in our lives.

Furthermore, we understand from this passage that the man has first gone to Christ's disciples to seek help for his son.  They were unable to do anything about this unclean spirit (though they were blessed at previous times and then in future times to cast our spirits and devils).  Finally, the man comes to Christ, possibly at his wit's end about the situation.  When he gets to Christ, he relays his plight and begs unbelievingly for help.  The succeeding verses after ours show his unbelief when he doubts the ability of Christ.  He essentially tells Christ "if you are able, then help."  Friends, no matter how much duress we are under, we should never doubt the ability of Christ.  It is never a matter of "if He can," but rather, it is a matter of "please will He."  Our prayers to Him for help should be like a leper's prayer who said, "If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean." (Mark 1:40)

How did this man get into this shape of unbelief to doubt the ability of Christ?  The answer lies in our study verses, and it is a poignant lesson for us today to not fall victim likewise as this man did.  The man admits that his son's illness, affliction, and possession came upon him as a child.  We are not given the son's age at this point, but the statement by the father shows that his son has been in this condition for quite some time.  Every day this man wakes up, he sees the problems in his son's life.  Every day, his emotions are taut – at best – to fraying.  So, he has a long-term emotional problem based on his family's situation.  Imagine the man's anticipation when he hears about the wonderful works coming in the regions that Christ visits.  He possibly hears about lepers being cleansed, deaf hearing, blind receiving their sight, etc.  In his mind, he thinks there may be hope for his son.

When he gets to the place where these wonderful works are taking place, he meets the immediate disciples and followers of the wonderful man called Jesus.  They have healed people before.  Maybe they can heal his son.  Alas!  They cannot do anything for his son!  The past emotional turmoil heightens as his current situation of hope just got dashed because of the shortcomings of this reputed Man's very apostles.  If we can, let us try to put ourselves in this man's shoes.  I can freely confess to falling victim to just as weighty a sense of unbelief in times' past, and I have not gone through anything that emotionally severe.  I can only imagine that my unbelief would have equaled – if not surpassed – this man's unbelief.  Yet, the Lord lovingly straightens out his sight and takes mercy on his son.

What is the relevance for us today?  Before getting to the main point of our study verses, remember that emotions can often cloud what is truly right and important.  Emotional decisions often turn out awry.  Because our sense is clouded by the fear, anger, sorrow, etc. we fail to remember what we should, and we recall (sometimes for long periods of time) things that we should seek to forget.  By seeing his son's condition, the man failed to see God's power and goodness.  Our own lives can be plagued by the same.

However, the problem was compounded by the disciples' inability to help him.  How many times do we see this same thing today?  Have you ever seen someone expect the minister of the gospel to do something, fix a problem, etc. that he just could not solve or fix for someone?  As ministers, we fail quite often in "living up to expectations" of others.  Something about us either rubs them the wrong way, or our abilities fail what they thought we could do.  Too often, the minister’s failings, shortcomings, inabilities, etc. take an already emotional person and further engages their unbelief.  Already frayed in thought and soul, they turn to downright unbelief in the ability and power of God.

Maybe a sermon is not blessed.  Maybe a sermon did not have the "punch" that we expected it should have had.  Maybe the minister did not answer our question quite like expected.  Maybe he could only answer our question with an "I don't know."  These and countless other examples could be employed to show that ministers do not always help people in their problems.  Perhaps we have been blessed in the past with good sermons, good answers to questions, and good emotional support during hard times.  The apostles had healed people before, but this situation did not yield the results the man yearned for.

If there is one message God's people cannot hear enough, it is this: do not judge or limit God's power and ability by the lack of power and ability in His ministers.  Judge not the Lord based on the lack of manifestation in His closest followers.  Christ will later tell these disciples in Mark 9 that the type of spirit that He just cast out can only be accomplished through prayer and fasting. (Verses 28-29) They could have – through that pattern – done what He did.  Sometimes, ministers do not have the answers, support, etc. because there is a pattern of spirituality we are not following at the time.  We are men, and we have our fair share of shortcomings.

So, sometimes ministers fail because of our lack of diligence, and sometimes we fail to live up to expectations due to something we cannot do (like raise the dead).  However, never look at a minister's mistakes and failings as some limitation of God.  Never let emotional stress cloud the sight that God has all power and authority.  This man's guilty state of unbelief came from this combination of things.  Our unbelief today comes when we become emotionally caught up in things that take our sight from God, and we find further reasons to not believe when our stressed mind is exacerbated by the people of God.  Maybe they could have supported better.  Maybe not.  Maybe the minister could be friendlier or easier to get along with.  None of these things is worthy of us doubting God.  Friends, He is so merciful to us, even in the midst of our doubting minds.  But, sometimes, the things we feel to want and need the most will only be taken care of when we see Him better and admit that we know He is God with all power.  The man's son was healed only after the dad admitted his own shortcomings.  Many of our problems resolve quickly and fade when we tearfully and prayerfully admit our faults and failures to Him and pray that He be with us in those efforts to better praise Him.

In Hope,

Bro Philip