CHAPTER V (CONTINUE)
The Middle Galilean Period (Continue)
14. Two Blind Men and a Dumb Demoniac Healed Reference: Matt. 9:27-34
We find a great deal of variety in the healing ministry of Jesus. He did not have some fixed way of dealing with everybody. People are different, their problems and needs are different. They need to be dealt with in a personal way. In this case the two blind men followed Him crying out for mercy. Jesus apparently gave them no heed, so they followed Him into the house. Then Jesus asked: “Do you believe I am able to do this?” and they said, “Yes, Lord.” So, He touched their eyes and they received sight according to their faith. As He had done with others, He strictly charged them to tell no man, but they went forth and spread abroad His fame. It would seem in some of these cases, at least, Jesus wanted to show the impossibility of silencing a testimony of one upon whom God had done a real work.
Then upon the healing of a dumb demoniac the people said, “It was never so seen in Israel,” but the Pharisees said, “By the prince of demons he casts out demons.”
15. Second Rejection at Nazareth References: Matt. 13:54-58; Mk. 6:1-6
Some commentators believe this is a record of His first and only visit to Nazareth, which is recorded in Luke 4:16-30, and which was commented upon under the Early Galilean Period.
16. The Mission of the Twelve References: Matt. 9:35-11:1; Mk. 6:7-13; Lk. 9:1-6
Since we have already dealt with the appointment of the Twelve Apostles we will confine our remarks to their commission. This is one of the great commissions of the N.T. Here we learn that Jesus gave His apostles authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sicknesses and diseases. The disciples had been in training up to this point. Now they are to be sent out to preach and to heal diseases. Disciples are learners; apostles are officially sent ones.
This commission consists of several commands. The first is: “Don’t go to the Gentiles;” second, “Don’t go into any city of the Samaritans;” third, “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel;” fourth, “Preach that the kingdom of heaven is near at hand;” fifth, “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons, and do all of this as freely as the ability has been given you;” sixth, “Don’t take any money with you; don’t pack a bag for your journey; don’t take a change of clothing or of shoes; don’t take a staff; for the worker is worthy of having these needs supplied.”
This commission is a very good example of the dispensational character of the Bible and of God’s dealings with His people. Many of these commands were changed by Jesus just a few months later. In the next commission Jesus gave to these same apostles after His death and resurrection, He rescinded the restriction on the Gentiles and Samaritans, and told them to witness in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and then to the uttermost part of the earth. This command is a complete reversal of the previous command. On the night before His death He asked these same apostles: “When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye anything? And they said, Nothing. Then he said unto them, BUT NOW, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip (bag), and he that hath no sword, let him sell his cloak and buy one” (Lk. 22:35,36). Again there is a complete reversal of commands. For the apostles to obey the commands of Jesus in Matt. 10 after receiving the new commands in Lk. 22 would constitute disobedience.
But why would Jesus give one set of commands only to reverse them in a few months? The answer lies in God’s covenant relationship with Israel. God had covenanted with Israel to establish His Kingdom with them, and after that to bless all of the other nations through Israel. Therefore, while Christ was on earth, when the Kingdom was near but not yet established, His message had to be addressed to Israel alone; just as He told the Syrophenician woman: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. It is not right to take the children’s bread and cast it to dogs” (Matt. 15:24-26). Israel had to be filled with her promised blessing before any blessing could go to the Gentiles. But after His death and resurrection when the Kingdom was being offered to Israel and when there was the possibility of the Kingdom being established (contingent upon Israel’s repentance and acknowledgement of Jesus as Messiah and King), Christ changed His commands and told them to go to Jerusalem and Judea first, then to Samaria, and finally to the uttermost parts of the earth. But before they had progressed far enough to go to the Gentile nations the rulers of the Jews rejected the ministry of the Apostles, blasphemed the Holy Spirit, and killed some of the witnesses. Thereupon God interposed a moratorium on the Kingdom offer; raised up a new apostle with a new dispensation and a new commission, and the Twelve who had been commissioned to finally go to the Gentiles, turned the Gentiles over to the Apostle Paul (Gal. 2:9).
It is strange that many Christians suppose that God cannot or has no right to change His commands. Some are still trying to carry out commands given by Moses to Israel; others are trying to carry out the commands of Jesus in Matt. 10; and it seems that the great majority of Protestants as well as Catholics are trying to carry out the Kingdom commission of Matt. 28 and Acts 1. If it was disobedience to work under the Matt. 10 commission after the Matt. 28 commission was given, is it not also disobedience to try to fulfill the Matt. 28 commission after a new commission was given to and through Paul?
After telling the Apostles how to behave in their ministry and how they will suffer as sheep amongst wolves, He tells them that they who endure to the end shall be saved (Matt. 10:22). This is a favorite proof-text for Arminians. Modern preachers who use this verse not only remove it from the context of the Kingdom dispensation, but they also fail to understand what the end means. It is usually construed to mean “to the end of one’s life,” whereas the end of which Christ so often speaks is the end of the age. If the Kingdom was near, the end of the present age was even nearer. (Cf. Matt. 13:40; 24:3,6,13,14 where world means age.) Those who endure through the time of Jacob’s trouble, the Great Tribulation, will be saved.
Matt. 10:23, “Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come,” has puzzled Bible scholars. Those who deny the literal second coming of Christ to establish His Kingdom argue that this verse shows that Jesus intended His coming to be understood in a figurative sense, for surely the Apostles went to these cities and 1900 years have transpired and yet Jesus has not come. It might be well to quote three other similar passages and point out a fact which is common to all and which explains the meaning from a grammatical standpoint.
Matt. 16:28, “There be some standing here, which shall not taste death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”
Matt. 23:39, “Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord .”
Matt. 24:34, “This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.”
It will be noted that in all four of these passages the word “till” occurs. In the Greek text there is an untranslatable particle, “an,” used with the subjunctive mood. On the meaning of this particle, Thayers Greek-English Lexicon states: “an, a particle indicating that something can or could occur on certain conditions, or by the combination of certain fortuitous causes.” In other words, these statements are conditional. We might read our present text: “Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of man may have come depending upon the fulfillment of certain conditions. If the conditions are fulfilled, the Son of man will come before you have gone over all the cities of Israel.” What then is the condition upon which His coming depended? There can be no doubt but that it depended upon Israel’s repentance and acceptance of the offered Kingdom. Acts 3:19,20 makes this abundantly plain. Even though Israel had rejected Christ in incarnation, now they were given the opportunity to accept Him in resurrection and had they done so Peter says that God would have sent Him back to bring in the times of restitution spoken of by the prophets. We know now that Israel did not repent and therefore the condition stated in these four references was not satisfied, and therefore Christ did not come.
In exhorting His disciples to faithfulness in the face of violent opposition the Lord made a remarkable statement, recorded more fully in Matt. 10:28 than in Lk. 12:5. “Fear not them which kill the body but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (gehenna).” This statement is a sufficient answer to those who claim that physical death results in the death of the soul. The body may be killed without killing the soul. It must therefore exist apart from the body. Only God has the ability, not only to kill, but to destroy both the body and soul in gehenna. Destroy never means annihilate in Scripture. The word used here is apollumi, and is the same word as translated lost sheep of the house of Israel, (Matt. 10:6; 15:24); go after that which is lost, till he finds it (Lk. 15:4); the prodigal son was lost and is found (Lk. 15:32). The word means loss, not of being, but of well-being.
Gabriel’s message of peace on earth is reversed by the Lord in the hostile environment in which He found Himself. He had not come to send peace but a sword (Matt. 10:34). Many Christians are at a loss to explain how Jesus could say He had come to send a sword and not peace, and many critics of the Bible, ignorant of this statement and the reason for it, try to impugn the claims of Christ by pointing to the fact that Christianity has failed to bring about peace in the world. The fact is that not only here did Jesus make such a statement, but in the Olivet Discourse He plainly stated that there would be wars and rumors of wars down to the very end of the age; that is, to the time of His second coming.
To be worthy of Christ the disciples must place Christ before their nearest of kin (vs. 37), before their own interests and safety (vs. 38), before life itself (vs. 39). He closely identified Himself with His own (vs. 40) and promised reward even for giving a cup of cold water to one of these little ones.
Matthew ends the section by stating that Jesus departed from there to teach and preach after thus commanding His twelve apostles, but Mark and Luke state that the Apostles went out and preached the gospel everywhere (in Israel and only to Israelites as Christ had commanded), casting out demons and healing the sick.
17. Death of John the Baptist References:Matt. 14:1-12; Mk. 6:14-29; Lk. 9:7-9
This Herod was one of the sons of Herod the Great who had ordered the slaughter of the innocents. His official title was Tetrach, “ruler of a fourth part.” On the death of King Herod his dominions were divided into four parts: Archelaus obtained two parts, Philip one part, and Antipas (the Herod of this story) one part. Herod’s wife was a daughter of Aretas, King of Arabia, whom he dishonored by taking Herodias, the wife of Philip, to be his wife. Salome was the daughter of Herodias. John had condemned Herod for his immorality and Herod had put him in prison.
John had been arrested perhaps eight months before his martyrdom. Possibly he was imprisoned at the fortress of Machaerus on the east side of the Dead Sea although some think it was at Herod’s palace in Samaria. There Herod had built not only a fortress with dungeons, but an ornate palace. The feast which he gave on this occasion must have been at this palace. The word “here” in Matt. 14:8 at least suggests this, for Salome said, Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist. John must have been nearby for the execution to take place and the head to be brought before the feast was over. It would have required considerable time to go from Jerusalem to Samaria and back. Herodias and Salome knew of Herod’s reluctance to put John to death, and they wanted the deed done before Herod had time to change his mind.
When Herod had heard of the mighty works of Jesus, he was sure that John had risen from the dead. It is strange that he was superstitious enough to believe John had risen from the dead but refused to believe Jesus had risen from the dead later on. Mark tells us that Herodias was so incensed by John’s condemnation of her marriage to Herod that she tried to have him killed, but Herod feared John, knowing he was a holy and righteous man, and kept him safe. Herod had apparently had several conversations with John, for we read that he was much perplexed when he listened to him and yet he heard him gladly. He apparently put John in prison only because of the insistence of Herodias, and now when he made the rash promise to Salome, she and her mother were quick to see the opportunity to have done what Herod had refused to do. Herod was outfoxed and although he was very sorry, to save face before his guests he caused John to lose his head. Herod had two fears: one, a superstitious fear that John might be able to put a curse on him; and the other, a fear of the people, because they considered him to be a prophet. He apparently had no fear of God. God is going to have two great witnesses in Jerusalem during the Tribulation and the rulers will do the same thing to them that Herod did to John (Rev. 11:3-10).
John’s disciples buried John’s body and went and told Jesus what had happened. Jesus was near the Sea of Galilee when the news reached Him, and He withdrew from there in a boat to the other side of the sea, which place Luke identifies as Bethsaida.
(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)