A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (27)

0 Dispensationalism

CHAPTER VII

The Period of the Perean Ministry (Part 3)

9.        The Leaven of the Pharisees

Reference: Lk. 12:1-12

There are a number of warnings against the leaven of the Pharisees, cf. Matt. 16:6, 11; Mk. 8:15, which the Lord described as hypocrisy. A hypocrite is one who plays a false part, one who feigns to be something other than he really is, an actor on the stage who wears a false face. But Jesus declares the day is coming when everything that has been covered up is going to be revealed, when things spoken in secret will be shouted from the housetops.

10.        Parable of the Rich Fool

Reference: Lk. 12:13-34

This parable is introduced as a result of an appeal of a bystander for Jesus to make his brother divide the inheritance with him. Jesus refused, for He apparently saw that this request was motivated by covetousness. A man’s true life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. Many a rich man has committed suicide because his riches couldn’t buy anything that satisfied him.

There are a number of principles which may be derived from this parable. A man who lays up treasure just for himself is a pauper towards God. The parable points out the uncertainty of life and of worldly riches. Man works hard to amass a fortune and when he is ready to enjoy it the stock market may crash, he may lose his health, or life itself. And what he has laid up for himself is left behind to be enjoyed and perhaps squandered by others. The whole book of Ecclesiastes is a commentary on this parable. “Yes, I hated all my labors which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that ú shall be after me. And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? Yet shall he have rule over all my labor wherein I have labored” (Eccl. 2:18,19 cf. 5:10-17; 6:1,2).

There are many general lessons to be drawn from this parable; however, there are some important dispensational principles also which must be distinguished. These are primarily “Kingdom teachings” and they are addressed to the little flock to whom the Father was going to give the Kingdom (vs. 32). If the mark of a true Christian is selling all that he possesses and giving away every cent of it, there are not many Christians in the world. Many attempts have been made to establish Christian communism, where all things are had in common, as in Acts 4:32, but they have all ended in failure and delusion. The failure was not that of God’s Word, but of refusing to rightly divide that Word. Having all things common worked as long as God’s Kingdom program was in effect in the early Acts period, but after that program was set aside and God began a new dispensation under Paul, the old program fell apart.

By the end of the Acts period these people, who had had all things common so that no one lacked, found themselves destitute, so that Paul had to take up collections from the Gentile churches to help these poor saints at Jerusalem (Rom. 15:25-27). Paul never tells members of the Body of Christ to sell all and give it away. He does tell the believer to work with his own hands, so that he might supply not only his own needs but the needs of others (Eph. 4:28; 1 Thes. 4:11), and if any would not work neither should he eat (2 Thes. 3:10). Paul does not tell the rich to sell everything, but he does charge them to be rich in good works (1 Tim. 6:17,18). Paul’s instructions on Christian giving are to be found especially in 2 Cor. 8 and 9, which he wrote in connection with this collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem. If Paul’s Gentile converts had given away all of their possessions they would not have had anything left to give. Political and economic conditions will be vastly different in the coming Kingdom from what they are in the present world.

11.        Parables on Readiness for the Coming of The Son of Man

Reference: Lk. 12:35-48

There is great emphasis in the Kingdom teachings of Christ upon readiness for the coming of the Son of Man to judge the world and to set up His Kingdom here on the earth (cf Matt. 24:42-51; 25:1-13; Mk. 13:34-37; Lk. 21:36).

There are actually three parables in this section. The first is based upon the bridegroom returning from the wedding and finding his servants ready and waiting for him. The second concerns the unexpected visit of the thief who breaks into the house, and the third that of a wise and an unwise steward, one who always acts in view of his master’s expected return, and the other who acts as though his master will long delay his return. This latter parable ends with a statement of principle upon which judgment will be based: greater punishment for those who knew God’s will but did not prepare themselves to do His will, and lesser punishment for those who did not know. Stated in another way: “Unto whom much is given much will be required. Unto whom little is given, less will be required.”

There is always the danger when speaking of judgments and rewards, to apply these things to the salvation of the soul. It will help to remember that no one, in any dispensation, receives salvation as a reward for his works or faithfulness. The unsaved who are finally cast into the lake of fire are judged and punished according to their works, and therefore there will be degrees of punishment. The saved will also be judged, but not for the penalty of their sin which has been forgiven, but for their service for Christ. This will result in reward or loss of reward. Believers in this present dispensation also are instructed to wait for the coming of the Lord (1 Cor. 1:7; Tit. 2:13), but this coming is not to earth to judge the world and to set up His Kingdom, but His coming in the air to catch up the Church in resurrection and glorification.

12.        The Baptism of Death

Reference: Lk. 12:49-59

Christ’s statement that He had come to bring division on earth rather than peace seems to contradict the angel’s announcement of peace on earth, good will toward men. His object in coming was to bring peace, but the effect of His coming was to bring fire and persecution and division, for the people were divided over Him.

Christ was baptized by John the Baptist at the beginning of His ministry, and now He says I have a baptism which will bring my ministry to a close. The first was a baptism in water, the second a baptism into death. This death baptism would be the culmination of the division among the Jews regarding Him. Through the Apostle Paul it has been revealed that the believer shares in His death baptism through the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit. “Know ye not that all of us who were baptized into Jesus Christ (by the Holy Spirit) were baptized into His death?” (Rom. 6:3). For that reason, Paul could say, “I was crucified together with Christ.” None of this truth of our identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection is to be found in the Gospels. It is part of the distinctive revelation given to Paul. (On this death baptism see also Matt. 20:22- 24 and Mk. 10:39).

Christ follows this with a denunciation of the people in that they were able to discern the signs which affected the weather, but were not able to discern or interpret the signs from the Word of God regarding the coming of the Messiah. “This time” in vs. 56 is the time predicted by the prophets, such as Dan. 9:25; see also Matt. 16:2,3.

Then Jesus asked why they could not judge what is right. They were in the wrong and He advised them to do as a man would who was being brought before a judge by an accuser. Settle the matter before you get into court or you will go to jail and stay until you have paid the last penny. This verse is wrongfully used by Roman Catholics to support the idea of purgatory. It is rather advice to get right with God before being hailed into the final judgment from which there is no release, for man can never atone for his own sins.

13.        Repent or Perish

Reference: Lk. 13:1-5

Public calamities often happen and we wonder why certain people should meet such fate. Had they committed some terrible evil? Was God punishing them for their sins? Two such calamities are here mentioned, one in which Pilate had shed the blood of certain Galileans, mixing their blood with the blood of the animal sacrifices they were offering, and the other the death of eighteen men when the tower of Siloam collapsed and crushed them. Jesus said that none of these unfortunate people were greater sinners than the rest, but He predicted, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” It is altogether possible that Jesus had in mind the coming destruction of Jerusalem in which great multitudes perished. The parable which follows bears this out.

14.        Parable of the Unfruitful Fig Tree

Reference: Lk. 13:6-9

There are three basic parables about the fig tree in the Gospels. In two cases the tree was unfruitful. In one it was cursed and withered away (Matt. 21:19), in the other it was cut down. (Cf. Matt. 24:32-35; Mk. 13:28,29; Lk. 21:29-31; for the sign of the Fig.)

Israel is depicted in Scripture under the figure of the Olive Tree, the Fig Tree, and the Vine (cf. Rom. 11:24-26; Isa. 5:7; Jer. 24:1-10). All three are mentioned in Jotham’s fable of the trees in Judg. 9:8-15. The Olive is an evergreen which has great length of life, and is thus a fitting type of Israel’s covenant blessing which will never fail. The Vine seems to refer more to Israel’s spiritual blessings, as set forth in John 15. The Fig probably represents Israel’s national blessings. The Fig was chopped down, but branches of the Vine and the Olive were cut off, so that the covenant and spiritual blessings still existed for those who believed.

The certain man of this parable represents Christ who came to Israel looking for fruit and found none. This is exactly what Christ did in Matt. 21:19 when He cursed the fig tree and it withered away. In this parable, however, the owner of the vineyard told the gardener that He had come for three years looking for fruit and had found none; therefore, cut it down. Why cumbereth it the ground? That is, why is it taking up valuable space and making the ground unproductive. But why did Jesus say, “three years” instead of perhaps two or five? Three years was the length of His public ministry to Israel. But notice that the Dresser of the vineyard interceded in behalf of the fig tree. He said, “Let’s give it one more year. I will cultivate and fertilize it, and if it then bears fruit, well and good, but if it doesn’t, then we will cut it down.”

Traditional interpretation cuts Israel’s fig tree down at the Cross, at the end of Christ’s three-year ministry, and begins an entirely new spiritual order on the day of Pentecost; thus completely negating the plain teaching of this parable. What about the extra year when Israel was to be given another opportunity? What are the historical facts?

First, we know that Christ did intercede for Israel as He hung upon the Cross: “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.” Next, we know that Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, stated in Acts 3:17 that through ignorance Israel and its rulers crucified Christ. And finally, Peter still addressing the people of Israel states: “Unto you first, God having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities” (Acts 3:26).

Whether one bases his teaching on this parable or not, the fact is that Israel was not set aside at the Cross, but because of Christ’s intercession Israel was given another opportunity in the early chapters of Acts to repent and receive her Kingdom blessings. If Israel and her Kingdom were not set aside in early Acts, then it is evident that a new and unprophesied spiritual order did not begin on that notable Pentecost. Instead it was the fulfillment and continuation of Israel’s prophetic Kingdom program.

15.        A Daughter of Abraham Healed

Reference: Lk. 13:10-17

It seems that Jesus intentionally performed many of His healing miracles on the Sabbath day, apparently to show that He was Lord of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:8), and also that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath (Mk. 2:27,28).

As Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath He saw this woman with a strange illness which Satan had brought upon her, so that for eighteen years she had not been able to stand up straight, but was constantly bowed over. He called the woman and laid His hands on her and pronounced her healed and immediately she stood up straight and glorified God. The president of the synagogue was indignant, got up and announced to the congregation there were six days in the week for working; therefore, come on one of those days to be healed. No wonder that Jesus stood up and no doubt pointed His finger at the ruler and said: “Thou hypocrite; does not each one of you untie your ox or ass and lead it out to drink on the sabbath? Ought not this daughter of Abraham whom Satan has bound be loosed from her infirmity on the sabbath?” This rebuff shamed the leaders and the remainder of the people rejoiced for the glorious things Jesus had done. The contrast is between the bowed over woman who was made straight, and the upright indignant ruler who was forced to bow in shame.

16.        The Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Leaven

Reference: Lk. 13:18-21

They were told again here to meet the immediate need. The word “Then” in vs. 18 shows the connection between what went before and these two parables. The word is actually “therefore.”

Both parables begin with something small which grows into something large: a seed becomes a great tree, and a few cells of yeast multiply until all of the meal is permeated. This is what the Kingdom of God is likened unto. The usual interpretation is that the Gospel begins in a very small way in the hearts of a few and it grows until it converts the whole world. The only thing wrong with this interpretation is that it is contrary to the facts. The world did not get converted under the preaching of the Kingdom Gospel, and it is far from being converted after 2000 years of the preaching of the gospel of the grace of God. It is also contrary to Scripture because Scripture plainly asserts a great apostasy will take place before the return of Christ.

Other parables liken the Kingdom to a field in which good and bad seed is sown and both grow up together until the return of Christ, and to a net cast into the sea that enmeshes both good and rough fish, or to different kinds of soil, some of which produces little if any fruit. Therefore, when we think about the Kingdom of which Jesus was speaking, we must not think of heavenly bliss with everything pure and holy. It is something like the temple at Jerusalem. It is called the temple of God. Jesus called it My Father’s house, but it had become a den of thieves (Matt. 21:12,13). Israel’s Kingdom was the Kingdom of God but it was filled with evil.

Some feel that the fowls of the air which lodged in the mustard tree are representative of Satan’s emissaries, as they apparently are in the parable in Mk. 4:4, which devoured the good seed before it could sprout. Likewise, leaven is always representative of the principle of evil at work. Leaven was excluded from the food and even the homes at Passover (Ex. 13:6,7). Jesus called the false teachings of the Pharisees leaven (Matt. 16: 6). Paul likened leaven to malice and wickedness and warned that a little leaven would leaven the whole lump (1 Cor. 5:6-8). Thus these two parables explain how a daughter of Abraham in the Kingdom of God could be bound by Satan for eighteen years, and how the rulers of the synagogue could be so blinded as to rebuke the Lord for healing this woman on the Sabbath day.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

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A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (26)

0 Dispensationalism

CHAPTER VII

The Period of the Perean Ministry (Part 2)

6.     The Feast of Dedication Reference: John 10:22-42

The feast of dedication was not one of the original Mosaic feasts in Israel. This feast was established during the inter-testament period by Judas Maccabaeus when he freed Jerusalem and the Temple from the Greeks in 164 B.C. It was held on the 25th of Chisleu (December), which seems to be good evidence that Jesus was not born on that day. Just three years to the day after Antiochus Epiphanes had desecrated the temple it was rededicated. The word dedication means “renewal.” It was also called the feast of Lights. For the eight days of the festival lights were kindled in the temple and in every Jewish home. Solomon’s porch, according to Josephus, was a remnant of the original temple of Solomon which had remained intact after the Babylonian destruction. It was on the east side and the morning sun would warm the place on a winter morning.

The Jews asked Jesus, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus had told them plainly on several occasions and He repeats His claim to Messiahship again. Jesus attributed their unbelief to the fact that they were not His sheep and therefore did not hear His voice. The case was just the opposite with those who were His sheep.

Verses 28 and 29 are very strong security promises for the believer. “I give (not will give or may give) unto them eternal life and (if it is eternal then it must be true) they shall never perish.” The believer is pictured as being held in the hand of Christ, and His hand held in the Father’s hand, so that no man will ever be able to snatch him out of those almighty hands.

Christ follows this, not only with the claims of Messiahship, but with equality with the Father: “I and my Father are one.” The Greek reads: “I and my Father one we are.” The verb is plural and “one” is neuter singular. If “one” had been masculine, it might have implied “one person.” The neuter implies “one in essence.” The statement thus affirms the distinction of Persons in the Godhead and the unity of essence and nature. But this claim of equality with God, perfectly understood by the Jews, angered the Jews and they took up stones again to kill Him for blasphemy. They could find no fault with the good works which Jesus had done, but for a man to make Himself God was too much. Then Jesus quoted Scripture to them, as He often did: “Is it not written in your law, I have said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken, say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?”

You will notice that Jesus said that this was written “in your law,” that is, the Jew’s law, which means God was calling certain Jews gods. This fact is further emphasized in the statement “to whom the word of God came.” The word of God came only to the people of Israel back then. This does not mean that God called every Israelite a god; howbeit, He did call them all, children of the most High (Ps. 82:6). This verse begins, “I have said,” indicating that God had said this previously.

If we turn back to Ex. 21:6 and 22:8,9, we discover that the word translated “judges” in these verses is the Hebrew “Elohim,” or gods. Moses is also called a god in Ex. 7:1. Thus God called the judges, the prophets, and the rulers “gods” as being His representatives. Jesus is not saying that He is a god only in the sense that the judges of Israel were called gods. But rather, if they could be called gods in an official sense, how much more properly could He, who was sealed and consecrated by the Father, be called, Son of God. After answering their charge of blasphemy He appeals again to the character of His works: If they don’t bear the character of the Father, don’t believe me; but if they do, which you have admitted, believe the testimony of the works, even though you don’t believe me, that you may know, and believe that the Father is in me, and I in Him. Again, they would have stoned Him but He escaped out of their hands. So Jesus went away again “beyond Jordan” where John at the first had baptized and there He abode and many believed on Him, for John’s testimony of Him had proved to be true.

We should point out that Jesus also defended the infallibility of the Scripture on several occasions: here, when He asserted: “The scripture cannot be broken.”

7.     Discourse on Prayer Reference: Lk. 11:1-13

This chapter begins with Jesus teaching some disciples to pray, as John the Baptist taught his disciples to pray. Jesus used almost the same format for prayer as we find in the sermon on the mount. The setting here in Luke seems altogether different from that in Matthew, although the wording of the prayer is very similar.

A The Parable of the Importunate Friend.

Jesus follows this instruction with two parables on prayer. The first is that of the Importunate Friend, and is found only in Luke. On the surface prayer seems to be a very simple thing, simply making request for a particular need. But there is more in the outworking of prayer than human wisdom can fathom. Men rationalize that if God has foreordained and foreknown everything that will ever happen from the beginning, how can man’s prayer cause anything different to happen? We can answer only by saying that God has ordained the means as well as the result, and prayer is often the means. Thus, God foreknew that a missionary would have a particular need and that He would supply that need, but He also foreknew that a group of believers ten thousand miles away would pray for that need and their prayer would be answered.

The present parable deals with the importunity of prayer. Importune means to urge with frequent application, press urgently, be insistent. The parable seems to be saying that if one keeps on asking long enough God will finally give in and grant the request. But on another occasion the Lord said: “When ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking” (Matt. 6:7). The parable is not encouraging man to act like a selfish child, always crying, “Gi’me! Gi’me!” There is more to real prayer than simply saying, “Bless the foreign missionaries,” and then taking the attitude you have discharged your duty and there is no further need to talk to God about it until another urgent request is received. Prayer should be born of concern. If a loved one is at the point of death, we do not pray in that fashion. We continue in prayer pouring out our hearts, and that is a good Pauline admonition: “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving” (Col. 4:2). The teaching of the parable seems to be if we can by importunity obtain our requests from an unwilling friend, how much more can we expect to receive from a willing Giver?

B The Parable of Fatherhood.

This is a self-explanatory parable of God’s willingness to give good things to His children. Often people think of God only as a Judge whose only motive is to catch us doing wrong, to punish, and to take away our pleasures. God is, of course, a righteous Judge, but the believer has passed out of judgment into God’s family and now knows God as a loving Father. The objects which Christ contrasted in this parable: a stone for a loaf of bread, a serpent for a fish, and a scorpion for an egg, might seem odd at first sight, but there is a similarity in appearance between these pairs of objects. There are also contrasts between an earthly father and the Heavenly Father and between good material gifts and spiritual gifts.

Apparently the Lord did not mean that the Father would give the Person of the Holy Spirit to those who asked, for Christ made it plain that the Holy Spirit could not come as an indwelling presence until He had ascended to the Father (John 16:7). In the Greek text Holy Spirit appears without the definite article, and this usage usually means gifts or endowments of the Spirit. Christ also told His disciples while He was with them the Holy Spirit was also with them, but that later on He would be in them. Believers in the present dispensation do not have to pray that God would give them the Holy Spirit; nor do they have to tarry for Him (Lk. 24:49); they receive Him and are sealed by Him upon believing (Eph. 1:13, where the present participle “after ye believed” should be translated, “upon believing”). Both of these parables lend great encouragement to the child of God to make request to His heavenly Father.

8.     Conflict With the Pharisees

A The Unpardonable Sin: Matt. 12:22-32; Mk. 3:22-30; Lk. 11:14-23.

After healing a man who was blind and dumb, the Pharisees accused Jesus of using Satanic power, but Jesus showed the inconsistency of such a charge, for in that case Satan would be fighting against himself and his kingdom would be destroyed. But if He was casting out demons by the Spirit of God, this was proof that the Kingdom of God had come upon them. He illustrated this truth with the parable of the stronger man (Christ) binding the strong man (Satan) and then spoiling his goods. Matthew and Mark give the added details of what is generally called the unpardonable sin.

Christ stated that all manner of sin against the Son of man would be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Holy Spirit would never be forgiven: it is an eternal sin. This passage has caused many Christians to fear, lest they have committed this sin and have therefore lost their salvation. First of all, it should be evident that anyone who is sincerely concerned about being saved through faith in Christ has not committed this sin. In fact, after one has received the gift of eternal life and has been sealed by the Spirit unto the future day of redemption, there is no sin or power that can separate him from the love of Christ, or as we have recently seen from John 10, nothing that can snatch such a one out of the hands of Christ and the Father.

The unpardonable sin is usually interpreted as ascribing the work of Christ which He wrought through the power of the Holy Spirit to Satan, as these Pharisees were doing. It seems, however, there is a deeper meaning than this, for Jesus Himself prayed that these people who had thus accused Him and finally had Him crucified might be forgiven because they really didn’t know what they were doing. However, when the Holy Spirit was miraculously poured out at Pentecost and the people of Israel were enlightened by the Spirit (cf. Heb. 2:3,4; 6:4-6), they were no longer ignorant of what they were doing. We read in the book of Acts that the Jews blasphemed against the Holy Spirit, which means that that generation of natural Israel committed this sin and they could not be renewed unto repentance. This, we believe, is the true meaning of that sin. It was committed by Israel, and as such it is a sin which cannot be committed today. Every sin is forgivable through faith in Christ, and no sin is forgivable apart from faith in Him.

B The Unclean Spirit Who Returned: Matt. 12:43-45; Lk. 11:24-26.

All we know about demon spirits is what we read in Scripture. Jesus said that when such a spirit goes out of a man he walks through dry places seeking rest and finds none, so he returns to the man from whence he departed and finds the place swept and garnished and then brings with him seven other spirits worse than himself and the latter end of the possessed man is worse than the first. This is apparently not a case where a demon had been cast out by Jesus, for we cannot imagine that these people He healed ended up the worse for His healing. It seems that the demon left of his own accord, at least when he left, the man’s house or body was left empty, unoccupied.

When a person is saved today his body is occupied by the Holy Spirit, which rules out the possibility of an evil spirit coming back to take possession again. It seems that man’s body is either occupied or strongly influenced by either the Holy Spirit or the evil spirit. Paul states that before we were saved, the prince of the power of the air was the spirit that was energizing us (Eph. 2:2). This does not mean that all unsaved people are demon possessed, but it does mean that Satan has access to their spirits and can mightily work in them. But thank God, the Spirit who energizes us is greater than Satan and will not permit him to take control of us, although when the Spirit is grieved and not allowed His rightful place in our lives it is possible for Satan to take advantage of us.

Some feel that this story of the unclean spirit is a case history of Israel. Israel became idolatrous in O.T. times; God sent them into captivity and they gave up their idolatry in reformation without actually committing themselves to God, and now in the days of Christ the demons have come back and the latter state of Israel is worse than it was at the first.

C The Mistaken Woman: Lk. 11:27, 28.

People often make the mistake of placing the emphasis upon the wrong thing. What they say is not necessarily untrue, but the truth is distorted. While Jesus was speaking, a woman in the crowd, apparently admiring Jesus for His wonderful words and works, and perhaps wishing that she had had a son like that, shouted out: “Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked!” The woman was blessing the mother of Jesus, rather than Jesus Himself.

Sad to say, this mistake has become a creed in Christendom. She is honored as the Mother of God, immaculately conceived, assumed up into heaven, where she intercedes for mankind with her Son, Jesus. Mary was indeed highly honored in being chosen to become the human mother of Jesus Christ, but the gentle rebuke of Jesus in answering this woman clearly indicates that Jesus did not give Mary the exalted place above Himself which Rome has given her. Jesus said, “Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it.” He did not dishonor His human mother, but as far as blessedness was concerned, any humble soul who heard God’s word and obeyed it was more blessed than His mother in the flesh.

D The Sign of the Prophet Jonah: Matt. 12:38-42; Lk. 11:29-32.

It will be noted that Matthew placed the sign of Jonah before the story of the unclean spirit, whereas Luke reverses the order. Matthew includes the statement: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth,”(cf. Jonah 1:17), whereas Luke simply states: “For even as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.” The men of Ninevah will rise up in the judgment and condemn the men of Jesus’ day, because they repented at Jonah’s preaching (cf. Jon. 3:5-10), and a greater One than Jonah was there present and they repented not.

The Queen of Sheba will also testify against those of Jesus’ day, for she came from a great distance to hear the wisdom of Solomon (cf. 2 Chron. 9:1-12), and a greater than Solomon was there. The generation which lived through the earthly ministry of Christ bore the greatest responsibility of any generation in the past. Earlier generations had much less light of revelation and yet in many cases they were more responsive than those of Jesus’ day. It is our belief that people in our present generation bear even a greater responsibility than those of Jesus’ day, for we have the full and completed revelation of God’s Word which leaves man totally without any excuse whatsoever.

E Parable of the Lighted Lamp: Lk. 41:33-36; cf. Matt. 5:15; Mk. 4:21; Lk. 8:16; Matt. 6:22,23. See notes on the above passages where this parable is expounded.

F Dining at the Pharisee’s House: Lk. 11:37-54.

The Pharisee who had invited Jesus to dinner marvelled that Jesus did not baptize Himself before reclining at the table. It would have been a great service to the English reader if the translators had always rendered the Greek “baptizo” as baptize, instead of “wash” as in this instance. By saying that Jesus and His disciples did not wash before eating, the impression is left that Jesus paid little attention to bodily cleanliness. Also the true significance of baptism is veiled. Most Christians suppose that baptism has only one meaning and that it is a ceremony to be performed only once at the time they join the church. The Mosaic religion contained many baptisms, according to Heb. 9:10, and the Jews had added many more since Moses’ day. They ceremonially baptized themselves before every meal, as well as baptizing their eating utensils. Jesus not only did not practice these traditions of the elders, but stated that these practices had made void the word of God.

It was no doubt because Jesus understood what was going on in this Pharisee’s mind that He began pronouncing woes upon them. They washed the outside of the cup, the part that man could see, but left the inside dirty and encrusted with mold and corruption. If only they would cleanse the inside they would not have to worry about the outside. They obeyed meticulously the smallest outward requirements of the law, such as tithing of various things, but they passed over judgment and the love of God. They should have done the lesser outward things, but even more they should have done the weightier things that were inward.

He said they were like unmarked tombs that men trample underfoot without knowing it. In another place He called them whitewashed tombs, white on the outside but full of dead men’s bones. There were some lawyers present also, the experts in interpreting the Bible. And they said, “Master, you have insulted us also by your words.” And Jesus fearlessly flayed them also. They placed heavy burdens upon the laity but freed themselves from all obligation. They built tombs for the prophets which their fathers had murdered, thus consenting to the deeds of their fathers. And again we see the great responsibility which devolved upon that generation. He said that the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the beginning of the world, all the way from the blood of Abel down to the blood of Zechariah (2 Chron. 24:20-22), would be required of this generation. The lawyers had taken away the key of knowledge; they had not gone in themselves and they stopped those who were trying to go into the Kingdom.

It had not been a very pleasant dinner party for the Pharisees and Lawyers. After dinner they became very bitter and tried to draw Him out on many subjects, hoping to pounce upon some incriminating statement, whereby they might condemn Him.

For further denunciations of the Pharisees, cf. Matt. 23:4-36 and Mk. 12:38-40.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

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A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (25)

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CHAPTER VII

The Period of the Perean Ministry (Part 1)

RESUME

As stated earlier, it is not possible to fit all of the events of Christ’s ministry into a perfect chronological order. Some writers end the Period of Retirement with Mark 9:50, and insert next a Judean Ministry beginning at Mk. 10:1 taking in the trip from Galilee to Jerusalem and continuing through the Feast of Tabernacles to the Feast of Dedication in John 10. Because the events at these two feasts are recorded only in John it is uncertain exactly where they fit into the Synoptic record. We are beginning the Perean Period with Christ’s final departure from Galilee and ending in His last appearance in Jerusalem. As will be seen the greater part of this period is covered only by Luke. Of the 43 topics in this section, only 9 are common to the Synoptics – 5 are found only in John, and 28 only in Luke.

Perea is not a scriptural name. It is the name used by Josephus to describe the district which the rabbis habitually referred to as “the land beyond Jordan,” which in the Greek is “peran tou Iordanou” (Matt. 4:15; 19:1). It was bounded by Pella in the north to Machaerus in the south and extended from the Jordan river on the west to the desert on the east. Perea was considered as a part of the land of Israel, along with Judea and Galilee and was under the same religious and political laws.

The Final Departure From Galilee

References: Matt. 19:1,2 cf. 8:18-22; Mk. 10:1; Lk. 9:51-62

Much of our Lord’s ministry was in Galilee, but now He is leaving Galilee behind and heading for the eventualities which will transpire in Jerusalem, although there still remains several months of ministry beyond Jordan. The chronology of this section is uncertain. Luke states that when the time had come for Him to be received up, He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem. But following this is the account of certain men who would follow Jesus, but only after they had taken care of other business. This same account is found in Matt. 8, which means that the passage is out of chronological order in either Matthew or Luke, or the same situation happened on two different occasions.

The Lord never made it easy to be a disciple. He reminded these men that even the animals have a place they can call home, but He didn’t own so much as a place to lay His head. We are not told whether the man changed his mind about following Jesus when he learned that. Then Jesus said to another, “Follow me,” but he asked for permission to wait until his father died and was buried, but Jesus said, “Let the dead bury their dead.” This sounds strange, for how could a dead person bury another dead person? Undoubtedly Jesus used “dead” in two different senses. The unsaved are spiritually dead. There are many jobs they can do as well or better than a saved person. The saved person should be sure he is doing God’s work first of all. Another man wanted to wait until he went back home and bid farewell to his friends and family. Many a person has thought of serving Christ, but after consulting with friends and relatives has been dissuaded. It is man’s nature either to be too forward (vs. 57), or too backward (vs. 59), or too undecided (vs. 61).

The Samaritans had no dealings with the Jews (John 4:9), so when Jesus sent His disciples to find lodging in the Samaritan village, they would not receive Him because He was going toward Jerusalem. James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven, and while the fire will fail some day, it was then the day of salvation and not of judgment.

1.     The Mission of the Seventy

Reference: Lk. 10:1-24

Jesus appointed these seventy disciples to go ahead of Him in pairs into every city and village He was going to visit to prepare the way for His coming. Just as the number twelve is significant in connection with Israel, so is the number seventy. Beginning with Jacob, there were seventy souls. that came forth out of his loins (Ex. 1:5). There were seventy elders in Israel (Ex. 24:1,9; Num. 11:16). Israel’s period of captivity in Babylon lasted seventy years (Jer. 25:11). Daniel prophesied that seventy weeks (of years) had been determined upon Israel (9:24 cf. vs. 2). And the ruling body in Israel, the Sanhedrin, was composed of seventy men. The Septuagint was supposedly translated by seventy scholars.

The commission of the seventy disciples was very similar to that of the Twelve, given in Matt. 10. They were to take no supplies with them; they were not to pass the time of day with people on their journey; they were to be entertained at a home that would receive them, and if no one received them they were to wipe the dust off their feet as a gesture of shame against that city and tell them to be sure of the fact that the Kingdom of God had come near unto them. Then Jesus berated the cities in which He had done His mightiest works, stating that they would suffer a sorer judgment than such wicked cities as Tyre and Sidon.

When the Seventy had finished their mission and had returned they were very happy, for they said that even the demons were subject to them through the name of Jesus. Jesus replied: “I was beholding (imperfect) Satan as lightning having fallen (aorist) from heaven.” This may refer to Satan’s original fall, but more likely to what had just been transpiring. While the Seventy were getting the victory over the servants of Satan, Christ was beholding Satan fall as a dazzling flash of light which was quickly extinguished. The divine protection against serpents and scorpions is similar to that given to the Apostles in the commission of Mk. 16:17,18. However, their greater cause of rejoicing was that their names were written in heaven. The disciples were honored above many kings and prophets who never had the privilege of seeing and hearing the things they were experiencing.

2.     The Good Samaritan

Reference: Lk. 10:25-37

The expressed purpose of this parable was to answer the question of the lawyer: “Who is my neighbor?,” and this should be the primary interpretation. The lawyer, one versed in the Mosaic law, was tempting Jesus, that is, trying to trip Him up. As usual, Jesus made His questioner answer his own question. It was most difficult for the Jewish lawyer to admit that a despised Samaritan was a better neighbor than a priest or Levite of the Jews, but that is what he had to admit and that is the primary teaching of the parable.

However, the parable has many applications, and Christians generally make only applications and never use it to teach the human relationship of neighborliness.

A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. Anyone who has visited Jerusalem knows that one literally goes down from Jerusalem, 2500 feet above sea level, to Jericho, 825 feet below sea level. The usual application of the parable makes the certain man who thus went down to represent Adam’s fall.

He was robbed of his innocence and righteousness, mortally wounded and left to die. The priest and the Levite who happened along, when they saw the dying man, passed by on the other side of the road. They represent the Law. The Law cannot forgive, or restore life; it can only condemn and put to death. That is the clear teaching of Paul’s epistles, especially Romans and Galatians.

But then a certain Samaritan came along, and came to where the dying man was, had compassion on him, treated his wounds and bandaged them, put him on his own beast of burden and brought him to the inn and took care of him. And when he left the next day, he gave the host money and promised upon his return to pay the entire bill for caring for this robbed and wounded man, who had no money to pay his own debts, and had no strength to take care of himself.

And in the application, Jesus, of course, is the good Samaritan. In fact, shortly before this incident the Jews had said: “Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan and hast a demon?” (John 8:48). Jesus is the only man who ever loved God with all His heart and His neighbor as Himself. He is the only good, really good, neighbor this world has ever had.

3.     The Visit to Martha and Mary

Reference: Lk. 10:38-42

We often hear of women’s societies in churches which call themselves the Martha Society, but seldom do we hear of a Mary Society, and yet Mary was the one who chose the better part. The inference might be made that Mary was an impractical kind who shirked her household duties; however, the text proves just the opposite. When Martha said: “Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone,” the verb, “hath left,” is in the aorist tense. “She did leave,” indicates that she had been helping until Jesus appeared. The text makes it plain that the house belonged to Martha and she was the one who invited and received Jesus under her roof and was responsible for providing the hospitality. We dare not condemn Martha for what she was doing, for she was doing her best to entertain Jesus in her home, and we can think of many things worse than that. But Martha did not have the spiritual discernment possessed by Mary. She was interested only in providing the outward, physical things for the enjoyment of her Guest, but Mary realized that the Guest had spiritual blessings to bestow, and so took time off from the physical preparations to become spiritually prepared.

The word “cumbered” is an interesting word. This word appears only twice in our A.V., here and in Lk. 13:7; however, they are entirely different words in the Greek. Here the verb means to be distracted. She was distracted from the person of Jesus by the many little chores which needed to be done.

The word “help” is also an unusual word. It is a compound of three words: “to take hold,” “together with,” “reciprocally,” so that Martha said: “Bid her therefore that she take hold and do her part together with me.” This word occurs only one other time, in Rom. 8:26, where we are told that the Spirit “helpeth” our infirmities; that is, the indwelling Holy Spirit takes hold of the heavy end of the load we are called upon to bear and thus helps us in our weakness.

4.     Healing of Man Born Blind

Reference: John 9:1-41

Here we would point out a few principles involved. The first is what we might call the mediate and the immediate cause of disease. Disease is the result of sin, and so naturally the disciples asked: “Who committed the sin which caused this man to be born blind, the man himself or his parents?” In saying that neither this man nor his parents sinned, Jesus did not mean that they had never committed sin, but that it was not their sin which caused the blindness. A man may commit a sin which is the immediate cause of disease, or it may be some defect which he has inherited mediately through his forebears. Ultimately all the sin and disease in the world came in a mediate way from Adam. But in this case Jesus said the man had been born blind that the works of God might be manifested in him. How little did he or his parents have any such concept until the day that Jesus worked this great miracle, for there was no case on record of the restoration of sight to a man born blind. There are doubtless cases today where God has permitted one to be diseased for this very same purpose, that God might do some work through him to bring glory to God, but apart from revelation it would be mere speculation to make such judgments today.

Actually this man was not the only blind person involved. The Jewish rulers in their hatred of Jesus were spiritually blind. They closed their eyes to every bit of evidence: refused to believe the man had been blind until his parents testified he was their son and although they didn’t know how he had received his sight they knew he had been blind from birth. Faced with this evidence they went back to the man and tried to make him confess that Jesus was a sinner. They accused him of being a disciple of this sinner Jesus, but claimed they were Moses’ disciples, and knew not where this Jesus came from. The man marvelled at the ignorance of the rulers: here is a Man restoring sight to the blind and the rulers don’t even know anything about Him. This answer enraged the rulers: “Are you who were born in sin trying to teach us?” And they cast him out.

Up to this point the only thing the man knew for certain was that whereas he was blind, now he could see. When Jesus had heard what the leaders had done, He found the man and asked if he believed on the Son of God, and he replied: “Who is he, Lord, that I might believe?” And Jesus revealed Himself to the man as the Son of God and he believed and worshipped Him. It has often been pointed out that if Jesus accepted the worship of man, and Jesus was not truly God manifested in the flesh, He was guilty of blasphemy and was the greatest imposter the world has ever seen.

In conclusion Jesus told the Pharisees, “For judgment I am come into the world.” He did not mean that He had come to judge the world, for He explicitly stated: “I came not to judge the world, but to save the world” (John 12:47). The original meaning of judgment was separation, such as dividing the sheep from the goats at the judgment of the nations. Thus, His coming into the world resulted in a judgment, a separation between those who believed on Him and those that rejected Him. Phillips catches the idea in his paraphrase: “My coming into this world is itself a judgment – those who cannot see have their eyes opened and those who think they can see become blind.” Some of the Pharisees overheard this and said: “So we’re blind too, are we?” “If you were blind,” returned Jesus, “nobody could blame you, but as you insist, ‘We can see,’ your guilt remains.”

5.     The Good Shepherd

Reference: John 10:1-21

The first five verses of this chapter constitute a parable, but the disciples did not understand what Jesus meant by the parable. In the verses that follow Jesus applies the parable to Himself as the Shepherd who enters in by the door, in contrast to all who came before Him, who climbed in by some other way and were thieves and robbers. Actually the expression “some other way” (vs. 1), means from some other quarter. It is a matter of origin. Christ had been insisting previously that He came from above, from heaven. The others had their origin from a different quarter: they were from the world. Christ is the door for the sheep. It is said that the shepherd, after bringing his flock into the fold, lies down at the entrance, so that any intruder would have to come in contact with him before getting at the sheep. He is thus both shepherd and door. The shepherd’s job is to lead his sheep in and out for pasture so that they might have abundance of life, as well as to protect them from danger. All of this is in contrast to the hirelings, the rulers or shepherds in Israel. Read the entire 34th chapter of Ezekiel for God’s appraisal of these false shepherds, and for God’s plan for the restoration of His flock and fold.

The interpretation of this portion belongs to Israel, as is evident from both the 34th and the 37th chapters of Ezekiel. The traditional interpretation makes the other sheep of vs. 16 to be the Gentiles, which are to be incorporated with Israel into the Church. This mistake has been partly due to a failure to recognize Old Testament prophecy and partly to the inaccurate rendering both in the Vulgate and the A.V. of the words for flock and fold. These two translations ignore the differences between these two words.

The A.V. entirely ignores the distinction between aule, fold, and poimne, flock. The latter word is found in Matt. xxvi. 31; Lk. ii. 8; 1 Cor. ix. 7, and always distinctly meaning a flock, as does also the diminutive poimnion, little flock (Lk. xii. 32; I Pet. v. 2, etc.). Render as Rev., one flock, one shepherd. So Tynd. Compare Ezek. xxxiv. 23. We are not, however, to say with Trench (‘Authorized Version of the New Testament’), that the Jew and the Gentile are the two folds which Christ will gather into a single flock. The heathen are not conceived as a fold but as a dispersion. ‘Nothing is said of one fold under the new dispensation’ (Wescott). It will readily be seen that the incorrect rendering fostered by the carelessness or the mistake of some of the Western fathers, and. by the Vulgate, which renders both words by ovile, fold, has been in the interest of Romish claims.28

Thus, vs. 16 should read: “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold (aules): them also I must lead out, and they shall become one flock (poimne), and one shepherd.”

The Gentiles are nowhere in Scripture represented as being a sheep fold. Instead, it is evident from Ezek. 37 in the sign of the two sticks, that Israel’s one fold became divided into two folds when the northern ten tribes split off from the southern two tribes and became two nations. The prophet was told to take two sticks and write the name of Judah on one and Ephraim on the other, and then to join the two sticks together into one stick. This was a sign of what God was going to do:

Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: and I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel: and one king shall be king to them all; and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all;… And David my servant shall be king over them, and they shall have one shepherd…and the heathen (Gentiles) shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore (Ezek. 37:21,22,24,28).

Here the one shepherd is over the two folds of Israel which have been united into one flock in contrast to the Gentiles. By refusing to interpret literally the Old Testament prophecies and by refusing to recognize the mystery character of the Body of Christ which had not been revealed while Christ was on earth, traditional theologians have applied this passage in John to the Gentiles of the present era. The great blunder of the Church has ever been to identify itself with Israel, appropriating to itself the Israel promises, and leaving only the curses to the Israel to whom the promises were made.

While it is true that Jesus is Israel’s Good Shepherd who gave His life for His sheep, we know that at the same time God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. Here we need to distinguish between the dispensational and the doctrinal aspects of Christ’s life and ministry.

In laying down His life, Christ made it plain that no man could take His life from Him. He had the power to lay it down and to take it again. This is another evidence of His Deity. The truth of John 9:39 is seen again, in that His words caused a division among the Jews, some claiming He was demon possessed and others asking if a demon could open the eyes of one born blind.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

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A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (24)

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CHAPTER VI (CONTINUE)

Final Period of the Galilean Ministry (Continue)

13. Discipline in the Church and Forgiveness
Reference: Matt. 18:15-35

This is the second time in Matthew that Christ has spoken about His Church. As we have seen in ch. 16:18,19, this Church is associated with the Messianic Kingdom. While it is true that the Kingdom had not yet been established, Christ was in the process of calling out His people for that Kingdom, and that is the meaning of the word “church,” a called out company. The rules He gives here for dealing with a sinning brother are similar to Paul’s instructions for members of the Body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 5:3-5; 6:1-5; Gal. 6:1; I Tim. 5:19,20). The binding and loosing on earth and in heaven means that the results of such scriptural proceedings here on earth are approved in heaven. It should be remembered that the Lord was addressing His apostles who were to be judges in Israel.

This fact needs to be remembered also in connection with the promise, “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.” This prayer promise cannot be isolated from all of the other promises and instruction which Christ gave to His Kingdom apostles. Christians may make two serious mistakes about prayer. One is taking in an unqualified manner the prayer promises for the Kingdom and applying them to the present divine economy, and the other is isolating one particular promise from all of the others. We do not believe that Jesus ever intended to leave the impression that His disciples could ask anything for themselves in prayer without any qualifications whatsoever, with the promise that the Father would grant their request. We have record of a number of things which the disciples asked, which were not only refused, but the disciples were rebuked for asking such things (cf. Matt. 20:21,22; Lk. 9:54). Our Lord laid down several conditions for prayer. It had to be in His name, and that involved more than merely tacking on those three magic words at the end of the prayer. The disciples had to abide in Him and His words abide in them (John 14:13; 15:7). James, who was a Kingdom disciple, surely didn’t believe in unconditional prayer promises (cf. Jas. 1:5-7; 4:3). John likewise lays down conditions (cf. I John 3:20- 22; 5:14). And we surely find no so-called unconditional prayer promises in Paul’s letters to members of the Body of Christ.

This section ends with a discourse on how often we should forgive a brother who sins against us. Peter thought seven times was sufficient, but the Lord said, “Seventy times seven.” The Lord reinforced this teaching with the parable of the King who freely forgave his servant an enormous debt of 10,000 talents, and then the self- same servant refused to forgive his fellow-servant a paltry debt of 100 pennies and had him cast into prison. We cannot estimate the magnitude of the debt of sin which we owed to God and which He has freely forgiven through the death of His Son; therefore we should “forgive one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven us” (Eph. 4:32). Does the command that we forgive mean that we must forgive in a sort of automatic way? Luke gives these words of Jesus which show that forgiveness is conditioned upon repentance: “if thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him” (Lk. 17:4). This is a most important principle which many people forget. God does not forgive unless there is a change of mind on the part of the sinner, and He does not ask us to forgive those who wrong us and who remain adamant in their sin.

14. Christ Attends The Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem
Reference: John 7:1-52

In the introduction to this lesson one is reminded of Joseph and his brothers in the Old Testament, for they did not believe in Joseph, even as the brethren of Jesus did not believe in Him (“not believe” is imperfect – they were habitually unbelieving). They urged Him to leave Galilee and go to the feast in Jerusalem and show his works openly if He was what He claimed to be. But Jesus would not go into Judea, for He knew the Jews there were seeking to kill Him. He let His brothers go up to the feast first and then He went up rather secretly. The Jews at the feast were all looking for Him and inquiring about Him and expressing their beliefs and disbeliefs concerning Him. Then in the middle of the feast which lasted seven days (Lev. 23:34), and came in early autumn, He entered the temple and began teaching. This resulted in many questions being raised by the crowds. “How is it that this unschooled man has such learning?” “Isn’t this the man whom they seek to kill? But lo, he speaks boldly and they say nothing to him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Messiah?” “What is he talking about: Ye shall seek me and not find me; and where I am ye cannot come? Where will he go that we cannot find him? Will he go to the dispersed Jews among the Gentiles and teach the Gentiles?”

Jesus answered some of their questions and asked some of His own. He told them that His learning, His knowledge, His doctrine was not His own, but God’s who had sent Him. He asked, “Why are you plotting to kill me?” They said: “No one’s plotting to kill you; you must be demon possessed.” Jesus asked: “You circumcise a man on the sabbath day that the law of Moses be not broken, then why are you angry at me because I have completely restored to health a man on the sabbath?”

The culmination came on the last day of the feast, which was the most important day. Edersheim, an authority on Jewish antiquities, graphically describes the liturgy performed on that day, which greatly enhances the Scriptural account. Space does not permit quoting all of the preliminary celebrations, sacrifices, chanting of Psalms by the priests, etc. The priest had filled his golden pitcher with water when the temple procession had reached the Pool of Siloam and then returned to the temple to pour out the water at the altar. Edersheim states:

We can have little difficulty in determining at what part of the services of the last day, the Great Day of the Feast, Jesus stood and cried: If anyone thirst let him come unto me and drink! It must have been with special reference to the ceremony of the outpouring of the water, which as we have seen, was considered the central part of the service. Moreover, all would understand that His words must refer to the Holy Spirit, since the rite was universally regarded as symbolical of His outpouring. The forthpouring of the water was immediately followed by the chanting of the Hallel. But after that there must have been a short pause to prepare for the festive sacrifices (the Musaph). It was then, immediately after the symbolic rite of water-pouting, immediately after the people had responded by repeating those lines from Psalm cxviii given thanks, and prayed that Jehovah would send salvation and prosperity, and had shaken their lulabh towards the altar, thus praising with the heart, the mouth, the hands, and then silence had fallen upon them – that there arose, so loud as to be heard throughout the Temple, the Voice of Jesus. He interrupted not the services, for they had for the moment ceased: He interpreted, and He fulfilled them.

What an electrifying sight that must have been, as that Voice rang out in the midst of this great celebration: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (and John explains “this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified”). There was a mixed reaction among the multitudes. Some said, “Of a truth this is the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But others objected: “Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Doesn’t the scripture state that the Christ will come of the seed of David and from Bethlehem?” And there was a division and the ones who had been sent to arrest Him returned empty-handed to the chief priests, who asked, “Why did you not bring him?” and they answered, “Never man spake like this man.” Whereupon the Pharisees replied, “Are you also deceived? Have any of the Pharisees believed on him? The common people don’t know the Law; they are accursed.” But there was one Pharisee who secretly believed on Him and he enquired, “Does our law judge any man before it has heard him and knows what he has done?” Nicodemus who had interviewed Jesus at night in secret, and who had been a secret believer, later came openly with Joseph of Arimathea and begged for the body of Jesus from Pilate and prepared the body of Jesus for burial (John 19:38-42). One who is a true believer cannot remain in silence and secrecy forever. When the crisis arises he must speak out and declare his faith.

Jesus’ time had not yet come and the Sanhedrin was again thwarted in their attempts to take Him and put Him to death.

15. The Woman Taken in Adultery
Reference: John 7:53-8:11

After the feast of Tabernacles we read that “they went every man to his own house, but Jesus went unto the Mount of Olives,” where He spent the night and early in the morning He crossed back over the Kidron valley to the Temple and sat down and taught the crowds of people which surrounded Him. The scribes and Pharisees, still looking for some trick whereby they might catch Jesus in their trap, had found a woman who was guilty of adultery and felt sure if they brought her to Jesus, and He let her off with perhaps a rebuke instead of sticking to the law of Moses and inflicting the death penalty on her, they could accuse Him of violating the Law.

It would be interesting to know what it was that Jesus wrote with His finger on the stone floor as He stooped down, while they continued asking Him. Perhaps He hesitated just long enough to make these religious bigots think they had surely trapped Him this time. But then He looked up and said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” How quickly Jesus had turned the tables on them. They all knew they were sinners, and that was one of the reasons they wanted to get rid of Jesus, because of His preaching against sin. Who of them would have the gall to pick up a stone and hurl at the woman, when everyone in the crowd knew he was guilty of sin, perhaps the very sin of which they were accusing this poor woman.

And so the crowd evaporated, beginning with the oldest, leaving Jesus alone with the woman. It is most instructive to see the divine wisdom with which He then dealt with the woman. “Where are your accusers? Didn’t any man condemn you?” He asked. “No man, Lord,” she replied. Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more.” If we had been dealing with the woman we probably would have preached a long sermon to her, telling her what an awful sinner she was and thus humiliate her as much as possible. But the woman knew she was a great sinner and that she had come very near to being stoned to death, but she had been saved by the gracious and loving act of Christ, and although we are not told, it is our belief that this woman never again became involved in this sex sin.

Jesus did not condone her sin. It was not His business to enforce the law. He merely showed that the rulers whose duty it was to enforce it, were all as guilty as the woman, and therefore unable to enforce it, because the law required at least two witnesses and none remained to prosecute her.

16. Discourse on The Light of the World
Reference: John 8:12-30

Jesus calls Himself “the Light of the World.” Light is a characteristic term in John’s Gospel and in his first Epistle it portrays the manifestation of the life of God in the person of Jesus. John the Baptist was called a burning and shining light (John 5:35), but there the word is “luchnos,” a lamp. Here the word is “phos.” In John 1:7,8, it is said of John: “The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Phos that all men through him might believe. He (John) was not that Phos, but was sent to bear witness of the Phos.” John was a luchnos, a hand held oil lamp, lighted by Another, in whose brightness men might rejoice for a season and which would ultimately be extinguished. Christ is the True Phos (John 1:9), in antithesis to John, the Eternal Light which never needed to be kindled and which will never be extinguished. Light occurs 23 times in John’s Gospel. God is light essentially (1 John 1:5), and in Him is no darkness, the opposite of Phos. Paul says that whatever makes manifest is light (Eph. 5:13). Light is an emanation which requires an organ adapted for its reception. Light is not apprehended where there is no eye or there is blindness. Man is naturally incapable of receiving spiritual light because as a sinner he lacks the capacity for spiritual truth.

It is illuminating to note that Jesus spoke these words in the Treasury, where there were four golden candelabra, with four golden bowls filled with oil, which were lighted on the first night of the Feast. This may have provided the backdrop for Jesus’ words. Isaiah in four places speaks of the coming Messiah as the Light (cf. 9:2; 42:6; 49:6; 60:1-3). Malachi calls Him “the Sun of righteousness who will arise with healing in his wings,” (4:2). “Wings” refers to the sun’s rays.

This discourse is one of the clearest defenses which Jesus made for His Deity. As the Light of the world He was one with the Father, for only God is Light. He claimed that even if He did bear witness of Himself, His witness was true. He knew where He came from, from the Father, and where He was going. He said He was going to a place where they could not come. He said He was from above, and unless they believed He is the “I am” they would die in their sins. The translators have added “he” to the “I am.” But “I AM” is the covenant name of God in the Old Testament (Ex. 3:14 cf. also John 8:28,58; 13:19; and 18:6). Who else but the great I Am could say, “If ye believe not that I Am, ye shall die in your sins?”

17. The Discourse on True Freedom
Reference: John 8:31-59

The last verse of the preceding section stated: “As he spake these things, many believed on him.” The first verse of this section states: “Jesus then said to those Jews which believed on him.” The A.V. has missed the distinction in the Greek. The latter statement should read: “The Jews which believed him.” There is a difference between believing on and simply believing. Within this group which believed Him were some which truly believed on Him. The following context brings out this fact. He told them if they continued in His word, they would be His disciples indeed. And as we continue, we see these very ones who believed Him arguing that they were Abraham’s seed and had never been in bondage to any one, although they had been in bondage to the four great world empires, Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and now Rome. And finally Jesus has to tell them that instead of having Abraham as their father, the Devil is their father. (Refer back to our comments on John 2:23-25.)

Then the Jews called Him a demon-possessed Samaritan. When Jesus claimed that one who kept His saying would never see death, the Jews responded: “Now we know you have a demon. Abraham and all the prophets are dead. Are you greater than Abraham who is dead?” Jesus replied, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad.” “Why, you are not fifty years old and have you seen Abraham?” they responded. Then Jesus made another claim to Deity: “Before Abraham was, I AM.” By this time some of these who had previously believed Him took up stones to kill Him, but Jesus hid Himself, slipping through the multitude, and went out of the temple.

The freedom and bondage Jesus spoke about had no reference to political or physical conditions, but to sin and deliverance from it. Israel had been promised both political and spiritual freedom, but the spiritual had to be experienced first, and they are here rejecting it. The unsaved today boast to being free men, just as the Jews did, but Jesus says they are bondslaves. Only those who have been delivered from the guilt and power of sin are sons, and therefore free.

Universal Reconciliationists who teach that ultimately every created intelligence, including the Devil, will be reconciled to God, in reality make God to be the author of sin and therefore justice demands that He finally save everyone. They base this teaching partly on John 8:44, where Jesus stated that the Devil was a murderer “from the beginning.” They make this to mean that the Devil was created as a devil; that he was always a devil from the very beginning of creation.

But there is more than one beginning in the Bible. John 1:1 says that the Word was in existence at the beginning, and that beginning goes back before the first creative acts of God. There was a beginning of the creation of the heavens and the earth. But the beginning of John 8:44 cannot be that earlier beginning, for the word “murderer” is actually in the original, “manslayer.” There could be no manslayer until there was a man to slay. Therefore the beginning from which the Devil was a manslayer was the beginning of the human race. This does not prove that Satan was not the Devil before he caused the human race to fall, but it does destroy the argument that the Devil was created as a Devil.

And besides, there are numerous passages which speak of the fall of Satan (Lk. 10:18; Isa. 14:12; Ezek. 28:15). The teaching of Jesus that these unbelieving Jews were of their father, the Devil, contradicts the liberal’s teaching of the universal Fatherhood of God. God is presented in the Bible as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and as the Father of all who believe and have thereby been born again into the family of God.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

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A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (23)

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CHAPTER VI (CONTINUE)

Final Period of the Galilean Ministry (Continue)

7. Christ Begins to Foretell His Death and Resurrection
References: Matt. 16:21-28; Mk. 8:31-9:1; Lk. 9:22-27

This passage marks a natural division in the Gospel of Matthew. The two divisions are marked by the expression: “From that time forth Jesus began,” (Matt. 4:17 and 16:21). In the first half the King is presented: in the second half He is rejected. Of course, we see indications of His rejection before this, but now the fact is sealed by the revelation that He is actually going to be put to death.

One would have thought that Jesus would have commended Peter for his loyalty in defending Him from those who would dare to lay a hand on Him, but instead He speaks as though Peter were Satan and rebukes him for being a stumbling block and for not minding the things of God. It is evident from this passage, as well as others, that the primary purpose of the first coming of Jesus into the world was to die a redemptive death. Anything that would turn Him aside from that purpose was Satanically inspired. There are some dispensationalists who teach that the purpose of His first coming was to establish the Kingdom of Israel, but there could be no possibility of the Kingdom being established until Christ had first suffered. In Scripture the order is always, “First the Cross and then the Crown,” (Lk. 24:26; Acts 3:18-21; 1 Pet. 1:11).

Jesus then called unto Him the multitude with His disciples and laid down the rule for those who would follow Him. Before this it was apparently easy to follow Jesus, to get healed, to be fed, but now He is entering upon a dangerous period when violence will come upon Him and His followers. Therefore, He says a man must take up his own cross and be ready to lay down his life for the sake of Christ and the gospel. Those who seek to save their lives would lose them, but paradoxically those who laid down their lives would in reality save them. And it was at this point He uttered the familiar words: “For what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own life (soul), or what shall a man give in exchange for his life?” He ended this discourse with a “verily,” that some standing there would not taste of death till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom. The statement contains the conditional particle “an” (cf. comments on Matt. 10:23), but the primary reference seems to be to what happened six days later (Matt. 17).

8. The Transfiguration
References: Matt. 17:1-13; Mk. 9:2-13; Lk. 9:28-36

Both Matthew and Mark state that the Transfiguration took place six days later, while Luke states it was about eight days. There is no contradiction. The six days are exclusive; the eight are inclusive. As remarked in the last lesson, the statement that some in that audience would not die until they saw the Son of man coming in His kingdom, contains the untranslatable particle “an” which requires a condition to be fulfilled to make the promise come to pass. We believe that condition was Israel’s national acceptance of Jesus. There was still the possibility that Israel would repent and be converted after the predicted death and resurrection of Christ. However, in view of His impending death Jesus took the inner circle of the disciples up into the mount where He was transfigured before them. Peter refers to this incident in his second epistle (1:16-18):
“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.”

The word transfigured is the Greek “metamorphosed,” which indicates a change of form, as a pupae is metamorphosed into a butterfly. The essential inner nature is revealed in a new form. When Jesus was metamorphosed His face shone as the sun and His garments became white as the light, glistering and dazzling. This reminds us of Paul’s statement that God dwells in the light which no man can approach unto (1 Tim. 6:16), and of the blinding light which struck him down on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3). This outshining of His glory is surely an evidence of His Deity. The Hebrews writer describes Him as “being the brightness or effulgence of His glory” (Heb. 1:3).

Luke informs us it was while Jesus was praying that He was transfigured, and further, that the two men who appeared with Him in glory, Moses and Elijah, spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. We would not speak of death as an accomplishment, but for Jesus it was the main work He had come to accomplish. He was born to die. We can only wonder what Moses and Elijah said, but apparently that death was the chief topic of conversation in heaven. And on the side, the appearance of these two men with Jesus is proof that there is a conscious existence after death. Although Elijah was translated without dying, we know that Moses did die and was buried by the Lord (Deut. 34:5,6).

Some commentators criticize Peter for being impulsive and brash, but we wonder what we might have said under the circumstances. The Scripture says that Peter really didn’t know what he was saying when he said: “If thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles (booths); one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” Although Peter put Jesus before Moses and Elijah, it was not God’s purpose to place these two great men of God on a par with Jesus, for while he was yet speaking they were engulfed in a bright cloud of light and the Voice from the cloud declared: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him.” Suddenly they looked around and saw no one, save Jesus only.

Luke informs us that they held their peace and told no man in those days of the things which they had seen. Matthew and Mark state as they were coming down from the mountain Jesus told them to tell no man of the vision until the Son of man be risen from the dead. They as yet did not understand the truth of the resurrection, for they questioned among themselves what the rising again from the dead should mean. In fact, they did not understand and believe until Jesus actually appeared and showed them his pierced hands and feet and side and ate in their presence (Lk. 24:36-45 cf. Mk. 16:11-13).

The disciples must have been perplexed by all that was going on. They asked Jesus why the scribes say that Elijah must first come? Jesus replied that Elijah would come first and restore all things, and that Elijah had come and the rulers had done unto him whatsoever they listed, and that He, Jesus would suffer a like fate. Then the disciples understood He was speaking about John the Baptist. (See notes on Matt. 11:13,14.)

9. Demon Possessed Boy Healed
References: Matt. 17: 14-21; Mk. 9:14-29; Lk. 9:37-43

Mark gives us the most detailed account of this healing. While Jesus was on the mountain top being transfigured before His three apostles, Satan was at work at the foot of the mountain tormenting this lad. This demon afflicted the boy with fits of epilepsy, throwing him down, causing him to foam at the mouth and to grind his teeth so that he became speechless. Satan would sometimes throw him into the fire or into the water in an effort to destroy him and this had been going on from his childhood. The father had brought the boy to the other of Jesus’ disciples, but they were unable to cast out the demon. A large crowd had gathered and certain of the scribes were questioning the disciples. When Jesus appeared and was told what was going on, He rebuked them as a faithless and perverse generation, and asked that the boy be brought to Him. While the boy was coming to Jesus the demon threw him to the ground convulsing him violently.

The father pleaded for compassion: “If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus told him if he could believe, all things were possible. Whereupon the father cried, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” Then Jesus rebuked the demon: “Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him.” As the spirit came out, he convulsed him again, crying out, and left the boy as dead, so that many said he was dead. But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up and restored him to his father.

Naturally, the disciples wondered why they couldn’t cast out the demon, and Jesus told them that this kind of demon could be exorcised only by prayer and fasting, according to Mark, but Matthew gives the additional reason, “Because of your unbelief.” While the gift of exorcism is not listed in the Pauline Church epistles as belonging to this dispensation, these epistles nevertheless tell us of our conflict with Satanic powers and the necessity of having on the whole armor of God, described in Eph. 6:13-17, in order to be victorious over Satan. “Above all,” Paul says, “take the shield of faith.” And part of that armor, or perhaps the environment in which that armor is to be used is, “Praying with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.”

10. Christ Again Foretells His Death and Resurrection
References: Matt. 17:22,23; Mk. 9:30-32; Lk. 9:44,45

There is a very important fact to be noted in connection with these predictions about Christ’s death. We are so accustomed to making the death of Christ the central truth of the Gospel, we cannot think Gospel apart from that death. That is due to Paul’s clear definition of the gospel which he preached in 1 Cor. 15:1-3. However, earlier in this ninth chapter of Luke we read, “And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere” (vs. 6). They were preaching the gospel, but what gospel were they preaching? Were they telling the people about the death and resurrection of Christ as the good news of salvation? If anything could be said dogmatically about their preaching of the gospel, it is that not one word was said about the death and resurrection of Christ, apart from which we could not preach the gospel today.

How do we know this? This passage makes it plain: “But they understood not this saying (about His death and resurrection), and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not; and they feared to ask him of that saying” (Lk. 9:45). Later on He told them again of His impending death, and we read: “And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things that were spoken” (Lk. 18:34). If they understood nothing about His death and resurrection and if this truth was hidden from them, it is not likely that they were preaching about it when they were preaching the gospel.

The good news they were preaching was called the gospel of the Kingdom. It was the good news that the long promised Messianic Kingdom was near at hand and that the healing miracles were an evidence of that fact. Of course, the death of Christ was to become the basis for the establishment of that Kingdom, but as yet it was not being proclaimed. That is why we must go to the epistles to learn what the gospel of salvation really is. Those who insist on sticking with the earthly ministry of Christ and fail to go on to the Pauline revelation either confuse the message of salvation or give people a false hope. To preach the Golden Rule as the gospel is to preach salvation by works and thus frustrate the grace of God. The Sermon on the Mount was not given to show how to be saved; it was instruction for the covenant family of God.

11. Tax Money
References: Matt. 17:24-27

In the Law of Moses, Ex. 30:11-16, a half-shekel tax was imposed on rich and poor alike. The rich should not give more nor the poor less. This was called the temple tax. When Peter was asked if his Master paid the temple tax, he replied, “Yes.” When Peter came into the house, before he had opportunity to mention the matter to Jesus, Jesus asked him: “Of whom do the kings of the earth take tribute or custom? of their own children, or of strangers? Of strangers,” Peter replied. “Then are the children free,” said Jesus.

“Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go to the sea and cast a hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a stater; take that, and give unto them for me and thee.” A stater was a shekel, sufficient to pay the half- shekel for both of them. It is evident that neither Peter nor Jesus had any money, and therefore the miracle.

Jesus in His omniscience knew someone had dropped a stater in the lake. He knew that a certain fish had picked it up while scrounging on the bottom for food. And He knew that when Peter cast in his hook and line this would be the first fish to bite. If Jesus foreknew that much about fish and about one particular fish out of the millions in the sea, how can we doubt but that He knows everything that concerns us human beings, especially those that are His. If He could so work things together with the fish, is He not also able to work all things together for good to them that love God, who are the called according to His purpose? It should be noted, however, that this is not the normal way God supplies our financial needs. He is surely able but in His present spiritual order for us today He has commanded that we work to earn for our needs, and if we won’t work neither should we eat (2 Thes. 3:10).

12. Discourse on Little Children
References: Mat t. 18:1-14; Mk. 9:33-50; Lk. 9:46-50

The discourse on little children was occasioned by a dispute among the disciples while on their way to Capernaum. They had been arguing over which one of them would be the greatest in the Kingdom when it was established. When they arrived and came into the house Jesus asked them what they had been arguing about, but they were apparently ashamed to tell Him, so they kept silent. Jesus, of course, knew what had been the subject of discussion, for He knew and still knows all things; so He took a little child in His arms and set it in their midst and proceeded to give them a lesson on humility.

The disciples had been judging greatness no doubt on such qualities as strength, courage, finesse in oratory, knowledge and wisdom. But they had to learn from this little child, which had none of these qualities, that greatness in God’s sight consists in humbleness as of an infant, helpless in itself and totally dependent upon its parents for sustenance. The disciples might have learned this from their Scriptures (cf. 2 Chron. 7:14; Prov. 16:18,19; Mic. 6:8). Jesus, of course, will be the greatest in the Kingdom, not only because He is the Son of God, but because as the Son of man He is the perfect example of humility.

Although having equality with God, He humbled Himself, even to the death of the Cross (Phil. 2:6-9), wherefore God has highly exalted Him and given Him a name which is above every name.

Jesus not only used the little child as an object lesson of humility, but He gave a stern warning to anyone who would cause one of these little ones to stumble, to be offended, to go astray. Jesus said that in the world as it is constituted offenses must needs come, but woe to the man by whom they come. It had been better for such a man that a millstone had been hanged around his neck and he had been drowned in the depths of the sea.
Then Jesus spoke of safeguarding one’s self against committing such offenses.

When He speaks of chopping off one’s hands or feet, or plucking out one’s eyes, if these members of the body cause one to commit offenses, we believe He was using figurative language and was not advocating self-mutilation of the body. We have commented on this subject where similar injunctions are given in the Sermon of the Mount. It no doubt would be better to go through life with a maimed body than to have a perfect body and be cast into the lake of fire. For the believer in our present dispensation, he is told to mortify, to put to death his members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, and to put on the new man (Col. 3:3-10). But this is done, not by physically cutting off parts of the body, but by faith reckoning ourselves to have died with Christ and to have risen with Him in newness of life, (Rom. 6:6-13).

Christ’s statement about the angels of the little children beholding the Father’s face in heaven has been used to teach that there is a guardian angel appointed for each child born into the world. There is no other passage in the Bible which teaches such a doctrine, and from the tragic plight of millions of children during the centuries it would seem that the supposed guardians haven’t been doing much guarding. There is a similar statement in Acts 12:15, where Peter was miraculously released from prison where he was to have been beheaded, and where, coming to the door of Mary’s house in which the disciples had met for prayer, the disciples refused to believe it was actually Peter, and said: “It is his angel.” Did they mean Peter’s guardian angel, or Peter’s spirit? It seems most plausible to understand that they thought Peter had been beheaded and this was an apparition of his spirit.

Although one cannot be dogmatic, it also seems plausible to believe that Jesus was speaking about departed spirits of little children who had the closeness of relationship with the Father in heaven. The passage does not teach that children are all in a saved condition because of their innocence, for the very next verse in Matthew states the fact that the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. All humanity is lost by nature, and Jesus came to save the lost, which includes little children.

Matthew next records the parable of the one lost sheep which is applied to infants, for it is not the will of the Father “that one of these little ones should perish.” The same parable is told in Lk. 15 where it is applied to the prodigal son.

On the other hand, Mark records next the parable of the Salt, which was also told on several different occasions, which explains the different ways it is stated. In Matt. 5:13 Jesus said to His disciples: “Ye are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is henceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” In our present passage in Mark, Jesus said: “For everyone shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost its saltiness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.” The Salt parable appears later in Lk. 14:34,35: “Salt is good, but if the salt have lost its saltness, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is fit neither for the land, nor yet for the dunghill, but men cast it out. He that hath ears, let him hear.”

Salt is used primarily in Scripture as a seasoning to make food palatable. Job asked, “Can that which is unsavory be eaten without salt?” (Job 6:6). Mark refers to Lev. 2:13 where it is commanded that every sacrifice be salted with salt. Num. 18:19 speaks of a covenant of salt. When two men ate salt together they bound themselves in a friendship that could not be broken. Anyone who breaks such a covenant of salt is fit only to be cast out. Israel had a covenant of salt with God, but they had broken it, and according to custom and to parable, they were fit neither for the land nor the dunghill, but to be cast out.

Salt was also used as an antiseptic. Newborn babies were bathed and salted (Ezek. 16:4). Here salt takes on a purifying aspect. We know that salt is also used as a preservative for meats. Jesus said, “Ye are the salt of the earth,” and “have salt in yourselves.” What did He mean? He meant that everything that salt is to the material world, His disciples were to be to the people of the world. Paul said: “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt” (Col. 4:6). Speech seasoned with salt is just the opposite of corrupt communications out of the mouth (Eph. 4:29).

Mark and Luke both inject into this context John’s answer concerning the incident of the disciples forbidding a man who was casting out demons in Jesus’ name because he did not belong to the company of the disciples. John’s answer to Jesus was apparently called forth by Jesus’ words in the previous verse about receiving such “children in my name.” John said the man whom they had rebuked was casting out demons “in thy name.” John’s conscience was apparently bothered by what they had done. Jesus replied: “Forbid him not: for there is no man that shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part.”

These words of Jesus are in contrast to what He said in Matt. 7:22,23: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have we cast out demons? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I confess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” These statements appear to be contradictory. However, the Lord knows what is in the heart of man, and these in the latter passage He knew to be workers of iniquity, even though they claimed to have done these things in His name. The man whom the disciples had forbidden apparently was a true believer.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

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A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (22)

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CHAPTER VI

Final Period of the Galilean Ministry

RESUME

This is sometimes called the Period of Retirement. It begins with the withdrawal of Jesus into Northern Galilee and ends with His final departure for Jerusalem. It covers roughly Matthew 15-18; Mark 7-9; Luke 9; and John 7-8. This trip took Jesus all the way up to the borders of Phoenicia, where He had the encounter with the Syrophoenician woman. Some of the notable events during this period were the Feeding of the Four Thousand, the important encounter with the Pharisees and the Sadducees, Peter’s confession of the Deity of Christ, Christ’s prediction of the Millennial Church, the Transfiguration, the discourse on Little Children, predictions of Christ’s betrayal and death, the woman taken in adultery, Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, and His two discourses on the Light of the World and True Freedom.

1.    Children and Dogs, The Syrophoenician Woman

References: Matt. 15:21-28; Mk. 7:24-30

The story of the Syrophoenician woman is one of the most definitive dispensational elements in the Gospel accounts, for it shows with unmistakable clearness the relative positions of Jews and Gentiles in relation to the earthly ministry of Christ. It shows the priority of the Jews over the Gentiles in the prophetic Kingdom purpose of God. It explains the order in which the blessings of the Kingdom were to be bestowed upon Israel and the nations.

Jesus had withdrawn from Galilee and had gone to the northwest into the area around Tyre and Sidon. These two cities are mentioned numerous times in the O.T. In time these cities and kingdoms fell under the judgment of God as depicted in Ezek. 27 and 28. Jesus declared it would be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the judgment than for the cities of Israel wherein He had done His mighty works (Matt. 11:21,22). These two cities are located a little to the south of modern Beirut in Lebanon.

Matthew calls the woman “Canaanitish,” and Mark refers to her as Greek, a Syrophoenician by race. The woman’s little daughter was grievously possessed by an unclean demon spirit and she came crying for Jesus to help her by curing her daughter, but Jesus answered her not a word. The disciples seemed embarrassed and asked Jesus to send her away. Jesus replied, “I was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But the woman fell down and worshipped Him, saying, “Lord, help me.” Jesus answered: “Let the children first be filled; it is not meet to take the children’s bread and cast it to the dogs.” It is clear that Jesus was referring to Israelites as children and to Gentiles as dogs. Dogs were unclean animals, and He contrasts them with sheep, clean animals. It is also clear that God’s order was for Israel to first be filled with her blessings before the Gentiles were to receive any blessing. In fact, the prophetic kingdom program was that the Gentiles were to be blessed through Israel; therefore, Israel must first be blessed before she could in turn pass on the blessings to the Gentiles. It is axiomatic that wherever the message is to Israel only, or to Israel first, the ministry is that of the Messianic Kingdom. This is in direct contrast to the dispensational order today, when Israel has been blinded and cast aside, when no nationality has the priority. The very name of the present dispensation: the dispensation of the grace of God, prohibits any such discrimination.

The woman in our story apparently understood that as a Gentile she had no claim upon Christ, since she was a stranger from the covenants of Israel, and she took her place as a dog and replied to Jesus, “Yes, Lord, it is true that it is not right to cast the children’s bread to dogs, but do not the little dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs?” Even though Jesus as yet had no ministry for the Gentiles, this expression of great faith prompted Him to make an exception to the rule, one of the two recorded exceptions, and He granted the woman’s request and her daughter was freed of the demon spirit. This is the only record of His ministry in this region of Tyre and Sidon.

2.     Return to Decapolis

References: Matt. 15:29-31; Mk. 7:31-37

Matthew tells of multitudes of lame, blind, deaf, maimed and others being healed as Jesus passed through the cities of Decapoils. Mark singles out one deaf man who had a speech impediment, whom Jesus took aside privately and healed. The healing was unique in that Jesus put His fingers in his ears and spat and touched his tongue and said, “Ephphatha,” Aramaic for, “Be opened,” and immediately his ears were opened and his tongue was loosed so that he spoke plainly. The multitudes marvelled and glorified the God of Israel. Although he charged those who were healed to tell no man, the more He charged them the more they publicized the miracles.

It should be noted that Jesus used great variety in His healing miracles. For some He simply spoke the word, others He laid His hands upon them, some simply touched His garments, others such as this man and the blind man upon whose eyes He applied clay made from spittle, He used outward means. This variety illustrates the variety God uses in the spiritual realm in the work of salvation. Some are saved simply by reading the Word, others pass through some great crisis; some are saved through personal witness, and others are converted in evangelistic services. There are those who argue that a person is not genuinely saved unless he has gone through their particular conversion experience. These facts should be a sufficient answer to such claims.

3.     The Feeding of the Four Thousand

References: Matt. 15:32-38; Mk. 8:1-9

This miracle was very similar to the feeding of the five thousand, the only differences being in the numbers involved. In the former there were five thousand men, the disciples had five loaves and two fish, and they picked up twelve baskets of fragments. In this miracle, there were four thousand men, seven loaves and four fish, and they picked up seven baskets full.

There are those who believe that every number in Scripture has spiritual significance. While certain numbers in Scripture do seem to have spiritual significance, there is always the danger of speculation. We believe that God gave His revelation so that ordinary people could grasp its message without going into complex mathematical problems, such as counting the numerical value of the letters of every word in the book and finding a secret meaning between the lines, to be known to only a select few. We doubt that God intended some hidden spiritual significance for every mention of a number in Scripture.

4.     Encounter With Pharisees and Sadducees

References: Matt. 15:39-16:12; Mk. 8:10-21

After feeding the four thousand Jesus dismissed the multitude and entered a boat bound for Magdala or Magadan, according to Matthew, and Dalmanutha, according to Mark. These two areas were probably contiguous. Their exact location is in doubt. There He encountered some Pharisees and Sadducees who tempted Him, asking to see a sign from heaven. He rebuked their spiritual blindness by stating that although they could discern the signs in the atmosphere concerning the state of the weather, they were blind to the signs of the times. People today who are always clamoring for signs should remember what Christ told these Jews: “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign,” and in their case no sign was to be given but the sign of the prophet Jonah. This reference to Jonah by the Lord surely supports the historicity of the story of Jonah in the O.T. If Jonah was not three days and nights in the whale’s belly, Christ was not three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Jesus had no more to say to these who had closed their eyes to the truth, so He left them and departed to the other side of the lake with His disciples.

The disciples had forgotten to take food with them and while they were discussing the problem Jesus told them to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees (and Mark adds, of Herod). The disciples supposed He was rebuking them for not bringing bread with them for the trip. But Jesus was rebuking them for their unbelief and lack of spiritual perception, recalling to their minds the feeding of the five thousand and four thousand. Why should they ever worry about lack of food in the light of such experiences? Here again we see a distinction in dispensations. Whereas the disciples were supernaturally fed while Christ was with them in the flesh under the Kingdom program, later under the Church program we find the great Apostle Paul oftentimes hungry, thirsty, naked and cold (1 Cor. 4:11; 2 Cor. 11:27; Phil. 4:12). Israel was promised physical blessings for obedience (Deut. 28:1-4), but we have no such promise as members of the Body of Christ. He will supply our needs, thank God (Phil. 4:19), but that is different from the riches promised to Israel.

5.     The Blind Man at Bethsaida

Reference: Mk. 8:22-26

We referred to this healing a few paragraphs back in discussing the healing of the deaf man with a speech impediment. For a reason not given, Jesus led this blind man by the hand outside the village, and there, spit on his eyes and laid His hands on him. At this point the man’s sight was partially restored, so that he saw men as trees walking. Then Jesus laid His hands on his eyes again and his sight was completely restored. God sometimes does things instantaneously and at other times He does things gradually through a longer or shorter process. No two people have identical experiences. No doubt in this case Jesus chose to work through a process to meet a particular spiritual need of this man. Or perhaps this gradual healing was indicative of the slowness of the disciples to gain spiritual vision.

After seeing so many miracles they still did not perceive. Jesus then sent the man home and warned him not to even enter into the village. We saw in Matt. 11:21 that Christ pronounced woe upon Bethsaida because of their unbelief, and one of the judgments of unbelief is enforced judicial blindness. Because of their unbelief, Jesus withheld from the inhabitants the testimony of this healing miracle, performing the miracle outside the village and forbidding the man to return to it.

6.     Peter’s Confession and the Millennial Church

References: Matt. 16:13-20; Mk. 8:27-30; Lk. 9:18-21

All three Synoptics record the same confession by Peter of the identity of Christ, but Matthew, being the Kingdom Gospel, gives the further details of the keys of the Kingdom and the Church which Christ will build in relation to that Kingdom.

The confession was called forth by Christ’s own question: “Who do men say that I am?” Some speculated that Jesus was John the Baptist come back to life, or Elijah or Jeremiah or one of the old prophets risen from the dead. Then Jesus directed the question to the disciples: “But who say ye that I am?” Peter answered for the group: “Thou art the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus declared that Peter did not learn this fact from any human source but that it was revealed to him by the Father in heaven. Here we have what is perhaps the clearest claim of Jesus Himself to His Messiahship and His unique relation as the Son of God. He not only claimed it for Himself but declared that God the Father was the originator of this revelation. Men who have not had this truth revealed to them by the Father may deny His title as the Anointed One or as the Son of God, but they cannot deny that Jesus claimed this for Himself.

There follows after this a statement by Jesus which is one of the most misunderstood of all of His sayings: “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Rome uses this passage as proof of the Papacy: The Church built upon Peter with the power to forgive and to bind sin. Protestants have used all manner of interpretations to try to deny these claims of Rome. Some argue that Peter’s name means a little pebble, but the rock upon which the church is to be built means bedrock foundation, and that foundation rock is not Peter but Peter’s confession. Others argue that Peter had no more authority to forgive sin than the humblest believer and that all Jesus meant to say was that when we preach the gospel we are using the keys to the kingdom, so that we can say when a man believes his sins are forgiven, and when he doesn’t they are retained. And Rome further uses the statement about the gates of hell to claim infallibility for the Church: the Devil will never be able to prevail by bringing false doctrine into the Church. And of course, Catholics and Protestants alike agree on one point, and that is the Church of which Christ spoke is our present Church, the Body of Christ.

If we could only stop for a moment and put Scriptures in perspective, we would be saved from all of this controversy and confusion. The first fact is Paul’s plain teaching that the Church of which he was made the revelator and minister was a secret truth hidden in God and never before revealed to the sons of men in past generations (Eph. 3:3-9; 5:32). The other fact is that the Church of which Jesus spoke is associated with the Kingdom of the heavens, which as we have seen, is the long promised Messianic Kingdom predicted by all of the prophets, which will be established here on earth when Jesus returns as King of kings. To make this church identical with the Church of our present dispensation we must either say Paul was mistaken about our Church being a previously unrevealed secret, or we must say that the term “kingdom of heaven,” has suddenly taken on an entirely different meaning from the way it has been used previously in Matthew’s Gospel. But if we let Scripture speak for itself and recognize that Christ is going to have a great congregation or church (ekklesia) in the Millennial Kingdom (cf. Heb. 2:12 which is quoted from Ps. 22:22), the meaning becomes perfectly clear.

Christ told Peter and the other Eleven that they would sit on thrones in that Kingdom judging the Twelve Tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28). It makes little sense to argue that a judge sitting upon a throne exercising his authority has no more authority than the humblest believer. Why do we have to resort to an interpretation which completely nullifies the words of Christ to try to answer the claims of Rome? Rome is correct in delegating authority to Peter, but wrong in making the Millennial Church to be the Church in the world today. Rome is wrong in limiting this authority to Peter, for Christ gave this same authority to all Twelve of the Apostles, for all of them are to sit as Judges in that Kingdom (John 20:23).

Many people have the mistaken idea that the Church is something that is limited to the New Testament and is separate and distinct from Israel. This is true of the Church, the Mystery, the Body of Christ, but the word “church” (ekklesia) appears over 40 times in the LXX (the Greek translation of the O.T.). There was definitely a church before the death of Christ, as seen from Christ’s instructions in Matt. 18:17. That church was entirely Jewish and was the nucleus of the Kingdom Church. The church of our dispensation is a joint body of Jews and Gentiles, where all such nationalistic distinctions have disappeared.

There is misunderstanding also about the meaning of the gates of hell not prevailing against this millennial church. Hell here is the Greek Hades, the place of the dead, the unseen world, and sometimes translated “grave.” Hell as the lake of fire which has been prepared for the Devil and his angels, is an entirely different word. Christ had predicted that many of His followers, who were members of His church, would suffer martyrdom, and what He is saying here is that the gates of death will not prevail against His church, for He will conquer death and bring all of these back to life to take part in that Church.

It is altogether possible that Christ spoke these words in Aramaic and not in Greek, and if so, there is no possibility of making the distinction between Petros, a little stone, and petra, a foundation stone, in the Aramaic language. In every dispensation God has given special authority to certain men. Surely Moses and Aaron, David and Paul were men of special authority. Why take it away from Peter in the government of the Messianic Kingdom? If we understand this passage correctly, it refers to the yet future millennial Church, the program of which was interrupted and temporarily set aside because of Israel’s rejection of Christ and their choice of Caesar rather than Jesus as their King. It has no reference to the Church of this dispensation, of which Paul is the master-builder (1 Cor. 3:10).

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

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A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (21)

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CHAPTER V (CONTINUE)

The Middle Galilean Period (Continue)

18. The Fourth Sign – Feeding of the Five Thousand
References: Matt. 14:13-23; Mk. 6:30-46; Lk. 9:10-17; John 6:1-15

19. The Fifth Sign – Jesus Walking on the Water
References: Matt. 14:24-36; Mk. 6:47-56; John 6:16-21

These two sections will be considered together.

We will first briefly review the historical aspects of the story and then deal with the significance of the miracles as signs. When the Apostles returned from their preaching tour they came and told Jesus all that they had done and taught. There had been so much activity they hardly had time to eat, so Jesus took them to a secret place to rest. But the crowds saw them leave in a boat and ran on foot around the shore and got to the destination before Jesus and the disciples arrived. When Jesus saw the multitudes He had compassion on them, and instead of taking the needed rest, He taught them all day, and toward evening the disciples asked Him to dismiss the meeting and send the people to find food and lodging.

John tells us that Jesus asked Philip, “How can we buy bread for all of these people to eat?” He did this to test Philip to see what he would answer. Would he say, “We don’t need to buy bread, Lord; you are able to feed them miraculously?” Instead, Philip quickly figured that two hundred pennyworths of bread would hardly be enough to give each person just a bite. Then Peter volunteered the information that there was a lad in the crowd who had brought his lunch, five little barley rolls and a couple of fish, but what was that among such a multitude.

Christian workers have to learn that little is much when placed in the Lord’s hand. Jesus knew from the beginning what He was going to do, so he had the disciples make the people sit in companies on the grass, and blessing the lad’s lunch. He took it and broke the rolls and fish and gave to the disciples to distribute until they were all filled. Actually, we do not know how many people were there, for Matthew tells us there were five thousand men, besides women and children. There was such an abundance of food that twelve baskets of scraps were picked up after the meal. John tells us that the people were about to take Jesus by force and make Him king, and Jesus knowing this withdrew into the mountain by Himself. The reason they wanted to make Him king was the prospect of having a ruler who would give them free meals (John 6:26).

Immediately after the meal Jesus made the disciples get in the boat and go to the other side of the lake before Him, while He dismissed the multitude. He then went up in the mountain to pray. In the meantime, night had closed in on the disciples and a storm had developed making it very difficult to man the boat. They had rowed about twenty-five or thirty furlongs towards Capernaum (about four or five miles), when in the fourth watch (between three and six A.M.) Jesus came walking on the water, and Mark says that He would have passed them by, but they, when they saw Him, supposed it was a ghost and they all cried out in fright, for they all saw Him. Whereupon Jesus spoke to them, “Be of good cheer; it is I, be not afraid.”

Matthew gives us the additional details concerning Peter who said, “Lord if it is thou, bid me come to thee upon the waters.” And He said, “Come.” Peter stepped out of the boat walking toward Jesus, but when he took his eyes off Jesus and saw the storm he began to sink and cried out for help. Jesus took his hand, rebuking him for his lack of faith, and together they boarded the boat. Immediately the wind ceased and the boat was almost immediately at the place they were headed for. Mark tells us that the disciples were dumbfounded, for they did not understand the incident of the loaves; their hearts were hardened. In spite of the miracle of the loaves, they still did not see who He was. When they disembarked, the people recognized Him and began bringing their sick to be healed.

Let us notice now the similarity between these two signs, and then what they might signify. In both the glory of Christ as Creator is displayed. Only the Creator could transform five small loaves and two fish into enough food to feed over five thousand people with twelve baskets of leftovers. And only the Creator could have such powers over the forces of nature as to defy the law of gravity by walking on the water, to still the raging storm, and instantly cause the boat with its occupants to be at its destination. He is not only the Creator of Israel (Isa. 43:15), He is the faithful Creator (1 Pet. 4:19), and as such He can and will supply both the physical and spiritual needs of His people. Both of these signs are prefaced by the statement: “Jesus went up into a mountain” (vs. 3 and 15). Mark informs us that He went up into a mountain to pray and that He saw the disciples toiling in rowing because of the storm on the lake.

This may be a considered as foreshadowing of that future time of Jacob’s Trouble, but Jesus as the ascended great High Priest sees them in their trouble and speedily comes to deliver them and bring them quickly to their land of millennial rest.

20. Discourse on the Bread of Life Reference: John 6:22-71

The multitude that had been fed which wanted to make Jesus King had seen the disciples leave in the only boat on the shore and they had seen Jesus retire into the mountain for the night, and the next day they began looking for Him. They knew He could not have left by boat, but not finding Him they decided to go back to Capernaum, His headquarters, to look for Him there. Upon finding Him they asked when and how He had come to Capernaum. Jesus did not answer their inquisitiveness but got down to the more important question of why they were looking for Him. He told them they wanted to make Him King simply because they got a free meal and were filled, and that they should not work for perishable food, but for that which endures unto life everlasting. This answer brought forth another question, “What must we do to be doing the works of God?” Jesus replied, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”

The word believe appears about one hundred times in John and is especially important in this context, since Jesus made some other statements which caused many of the Jews to stumble, and still causes people to stumble today. He stated: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” The Jews murmured first because He said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven,” and secondly because He said they must eat His flesh to have eternal life. What did He mean by this latter statement? We can be sure that Jesus was not stating several different ways to have eternal life.

He had made it plain that there was only one way and that He was that way to God. He stated in vs. 29 that the work of God was to believe on Him, and in three of the following verses He stated without any qualification: “He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” He then spoke of eating His flesh and drinking His blood to have everlasting life. Unless this is a second and different way from believing on Him, eating His flesh must be equivalent to believing on Him. We have seen that receiving Christ is equivalent to believing on Him (1:12), and eating is another figure of receiving and assimilating Christ into one’s own being, just as food is in a physical sense. It is plain that Jesus was not advocating cannibalism, for He said, “It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” It seems clear from vs. 51 that He was referring to His coming death when He spoke of giving His flesh for the life of the world. And then He says, “If this saying about my death offends you, what about my resurrection: What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?”

The statement, “the work of God is to believe,” sounds almost contradictory, for in other Scriptures work is just the opposite of believing (cf. Rom. 3:27; 4:5; 11:6; Eph. 2:8,9). The Jews were works oriented; they believed man must work his way to eternal life through religious observances and law keeping. It would seem that Jesus used their word “work” to show that it was not work but simply believing. Believing is not an activity of working, but a passive acceptance of what God has done for man. It should be pointed out that the word “work” is not always bad when used in a spiritual sense. While no man can work or do works of righteousness to accomplish his salvation, his salvation has recreated him for the very purpose of producing good works (Eph. 2:10). Faith is an active principle, and Paul speaks of the work of faith (1 Thes. 1:3; 2 Thes. 1:11), which is just the opposite of the works of the flesh and the works of the law (Rom. 3:20; Gal. 2:16; 5:19).

It is self-evident that after Jesus had given the Jews the Sign of Creating Bread for them that He should interpret this sign by giving the discourse on Himself as the Bread of Life. It turned out to be a hard saying for the Jews, many of whom turned away and no longer followed Him. Why did some reject and others, such as the Apostles receive Him? Jesus explained it: “Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life,” (vs. 65, 40). Peter makes his great confession of Christ, (vs. 68, 69), but Christ confesses that one of the Twelve He has chosen is a devil.

21. Eating With Unwashed Hands References: Matt. 15:1-20; Mk. 7:1-23

This section deals with the complaint of the Pharisees that Jesus’ disciples did not observe the traditions of the elders, of Jesus’ rebuttal showing that the traditions of the elders made void the commandments of God, and of a parable concerning that which defiles a man.

Mark goes into a little more detail of explaining some of the traditional teachings of the elders. The fact that the disciples did not wash before eating does not mean that they were unhygienic. The washing referred to was a ceremony of baptism. The last clause of vs. 4 should actually read: “And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the baptizing of cups, and pots, brazen vessels, and couches upon which they reclined at meals.” The Law of Moses did contain a number of baptism rites, such as the sprinkling of blood and of the water of cleansing, but these traditional baptisms were inventions of the elders of Israel.

Next, Jesus showed how these traditions made the law of God meaningless. God had commanded that a man should honor his father and mother, but tradition of the elders taught that by making a gift to the temple a son could free himself of any responsibility toward his parents.

Then Jesus explained that it was not physical things which entered man’s body that defiled him, but the things that came forth out of his heart: evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. This is a Biblical definition of human depravity. Man has a corrupt, sinful nature. Cleansing the outside of man with various baptisms and washings cannot change the inward condition.

Christendom has developed many traditional teachings over the centuries, the same as Judaism, many of which make void the Gospel just as did the traditions of the elders. The traditions of the Roman Catholic Church which are held on a par with the written Word of God, make void that Word by teaching baptismal regeneration, the intercession of Mary, the re-sacrifice of Christ, and a host of other anti-scriptural doctrines. We must always ask: “What saith the Scriptures?”

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

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A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (20)

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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)

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A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (19)

0 Dispensationalism

CHAPTER V (CONTINUE)

The Middle Galilean Period (Continue)

B. The Parable of the Sower: Matt. 13:3-9, 18-23;Mk. 4:1-20; Lk. 8:4-15.

Jesus Himself explained the interpretation of this parable, and we would not presume to improve upon His words. The Sower is Christ, the seed is the Gospel of the Kingdom, and the ground upon which the seed fell represents four different kinds of hearers. The wayside hearer is the one who hears the Kingdom message but does not understand it, and the wicked one comes as a bird would and snatches the Word from his heart. The stony place hearer is the one who hears the Word and immediately with joy receives it but because he has no root in himself, becomes offended as soon as persecution or tribulation arises, as represented by the heat of the sun. The seed which fell among thorns and was choked or stunted represents those who permit the care of the world and the deceitfulness of riches to choke the Word and thus become unfruitful. Finally, the seed which fell on good ground represents those who hear the Word, understand it, and bear varying degrees of fruit.

Nothing is said specifically about salvation. The parable is concerned with fruit- bearing. It is evident that those in the first category could not have been saved. The second group seem not to have been saved since they had no root. The third group might represent saved people who had become unfruitful. However, the only way we can be sure people are saved is by their fruit. God alone knows the heart. Fruit-bearing is always the result of salvation; never the cause of it.

The parable teaches that the preaching of the Kingdom Gospel will not result in the conversion of an entire nation or of the world. There will be only partial success. Only a fourth of the preaching might produce fruit. We know that the same principle holds true for the preaching of the Gospel of the grace of God in our day and hence we may make a secondary application of the parable to our own preaching. However, we must be careful in making such an application that we do not confuse personal salvation with fruit bearing. Truly saved people have been caused to doubt their salvation by a faulty application of this parable to our day.

C. The Parable of the Wheat and Tares: Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43.

We are fortunate again in having Christ’s own explanation of the meaning of this parable. It is a parable of two sowers. One man sowed good seed in his field and his enemy sowed tares in the same field while the man slept. Jesus again is the man who sowed the good seed. The enemy is the Devil; the field is the world, the good seed are the children of the Kingdom and the tares are the children of the wicked one. The workers ask whether they should pull up the tares, and the answer is, “No, you may also pull up the wheat along with the tares; let them both grow together until the harvest.” The harvest is the end of the age; the reapers are the angels who are sent forth by the Son of man to gather out the tares. Those that are evil will be cast into a furnace of fire, and then the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.

In trying to apply this parable to God’s present spiritual program with the Church several facts should be observed. The first is that the wheat represents the children of the Millennial Kingdom (including the tribulation saints); not members of the Body of Christ. Next, this parable culminates with the end of the age. This present evil age ends with the second coming of Christ after the Great Tribulation. The Body of Christ will be raptured or gathered out of this world before the Great Tribulation. In the parable the ones who are gathered out by the angels are those who offend and do iniquity; the righteous are left on earth to enjoy the Kingdom. Just the opposite happens at the Rapture: the saints are gathered out to be with Christ in glory, and the ungodly are left to go through the Tribulation on earth. The only thing in this parable which is similar to God’s present spiritual program is the fact that both good and evil exist together in the world; all else is in contrast.

The first two parables are given in much detail and are fully explained for us. The remaining five must be interpreted in harmony with the first two. The lesson of the first two is that there will be a period of preaching of the Kingdom during which good and evil will grow up together, which will be terminated by the second coming of Christ at the end of the age to punish the wicked and to reward the righteous in the new age of the Millennium.

D. The Parable of the Mustard Seed: Matt. 13:31,32; Mk. 4:30-32; Lk. 13:18,19.

The mustard plant in this parable is thought to be the black mustard (Sinapsis nigra), which grows quite large. There are smaller seeds than the mustard, but it is probably smallest of the garden seeds. The statement that the birds lodged in the branches does not mean that they built their nests in it, but lighted on its branches to rest or to eat the seeds. The birds were probably small sparrow-like birds.

The parable speaks of rapid growth, but growth that is temporary, for mustard is a herb which lasts for only a season, and not a tree which endures for many years. Some commentators believe that the birds represent forces of evil, corresponding to the tares in the previous parable and to Satan’s emissaries, the birds, in the parable of the Sower. It should be remembered that these parables are not depicting the character of the Kingdom after it is established at the second coming of Christ, but its character prior to that time when it contains a mixture of good and evil.

E. The Parable of the Leaven: Matt. 13:33-35; Lk. 13:20,21. What does leaven represent in the Bible? There can be no doubt about the meaning Paul placed upon it: “Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us; therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5:6-8). What meaning did Christ place upon it? Jesus told His disciples to “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees,” by which He meant the unscriptural “doctrine” of these Jews (Matt. 16:6-12). In no place in Scripture is leaven used to represent truth or that which is good.

Jesus did not say that the kingdom was like leaven or evil; He said it was like leaven which a woman hid in three measures of meal until the whole was leavened. The Kingdom is likened to the whole process. Traditionally the leaven is interpreted as the Gospel, the woman as the Church, and the three measures of meal as the world. The interpretation is that the whole world will be permeated by the Gospel through the instrumentality of the Church, thus resulting in a converted world. This interpretation is diametrically opposed to the teaching of the first two parables as explained by Christ Himself. It is also opposed to experience, for the non-Christian population of the world is increasing at a much more rapid rate than that of new converts to the faith. It is also opposed to the plain, pre-millennial teaching of the Bible. It is also opposed to the a-millennial view which many Christians hold.

It should also be remembered that even the Millennial Kingdom, which apparently begins with a converted world, will end in a great rebellion when Satan is loosed from his prison in the abyss (Rev. 20:7-9). There will be no Kingdom of absolute righteousness until the creation of the new heavens and the new earth.

F. The Parable of the Hid Treasure: Matt. 13:44.

This is the first of the parables spoken privately to His disciples after He had dismissed the multitudes and gone into the house. This parable is about a treasure buried in a field which a man found, and after finding it he buried it again and went and sold all that he had and with the proceeds purchased the field. It seems evident that this parable illustrates a different aspect of the Kingdom from that which has gone before.

We believe this speaks of God’s hidden purpose to redeem Israel and in so doing to redeem the world. In the other parables the field is the world and there is no reason for changing it here. This treasure in the world must speak of people. Ps. 135:4 states: “For the Lord hath chosen Jacob unto Himself, and Israel for His peculiar treasure.” In Ex. 19:5 God says to Israel: “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine.” Since Israel is God’s chosen nation, His peculiar treasure which He found in this world, there seems no reason not to inject that meaning into the parable. We would not be dogmatic on what the hiding of the treasure depicts, but we would suggest that it could refer to the fact that Israel has been dispersed and in a sense hidden among all the nations of the world.

But God’s sovereign purpose with Israel is not going to fail, although the Kingdom in its mystery form may seem to fail. Paul explains the apparent failure of God’s promises to Israel in Rom. 10, and in Rom. 11 he shows that the present fall and casting away of Israel resulted in the reconciliation of the world. “But if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness” (vs. 12-15). And so Paul concludes: “All Israel shall be saved,” even though they are enemies of the gospel at the present. “But as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sake.” There can be no doubt that the giving up of all in order to purchase the field refers to Christ’s leaving behind heaven’s riches in order that He might pay the redemption price for the world on Calvary’s cross.

G. The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price: Matt. 13:45,46.

The interpretation of this parable is much the same as that of the hidden treasure. Some interpreters claim that the pearl represents the Church as distinct from Israel. It is our belief that the truth about the Church of this dispensation was as yet a secret and not revealed until it was given to the Apostle Paul. It has been suggested that the Pearl, instead of representing Israel as a nation, represents the remnant of Israel which shall be saved before the final establishment of Israel as a nation in the Kingdom. (Rev. 7:4-8; 12:17 cf. Rom. 9:27; 11:5 and the many references to the remnant in Isa., Jer., Ezek., and Micah.) Again, Christ is the Merchant who gave up all to purchase this Pearl, this remnant which remained faithful in spite of trial and testing and great tribulation.

H. The Parable of the Dragnet: Matt. 13:47-50.

This parable reinforces the teaching of the other parables that during the interval between the two comings of Christ the good and the bad will co-exist. The net cast into the sea enclosed every kind of sea life edible and non-edible. The fishers drew the net to the shore, sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. The fulfillment of this will come at the end of the age, that is, at the end of the Tribulation when Christ returns. There is a remarkable passage in Jer. 16:13-21, where God says concerning the remnant of Israel: “Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them.” There are many Old Testament passages which speak of the regathering of Israel and the separation of the faithful from the rebels, (cf. Isa. 27:12,13; Ezek. 20:13-38). According to Matt. 24:31, God will use the angels as the fishers to gather the elect. In the symbolism of Revelation the sea represents peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues (Rev. 17:15; cf. Rev. 13:1; Dan. 7:2).

I. Parable of the Scribe and the Householder: Matt. 13:52.

This statement is not actually called a parable and is not recognized by many commentators as such. However, we have included a number of similes and will treat this one as such.

In this comparison the scribe who is instructed concerning the Kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings forth out of his treasure things old and new. A scribe in Bible times was a scholar whose business it was to study and teach the Law. But sad to say the scribes, as a body, were ignorant of the Kingdom and they rejected the teachings of Jesus. But every scribe who is instructed (literally, has been made a disciple to) the Kingdom brings forth out of his treasure things new and old, the New Testament secrets of the Kingdom as taught by Christ and the Old Testament truths concerning the Kingdom.

These scribes would be dispensationalists of that day who rightly divided the Word of Truth. They would be able to put the old and the new together in a unified whole. There is an old saying, “Whatever is new is not true, and whatever is true is not new.” The only new things in the spiritual world are revelations of truth from God. The axiom we have just quoted would not have been true in Jesus’ day, for He was revealing new truth about the Kingdom, but it is true in our day because God completed His revelation with the apostles and the canon is closed. We may find much that is new to us, but if it is true, it has been in the Scripture all along. God revealed a whole new body of truth to the Apostle Paul for members of the Church which is His Body, and it has been in the Book for two thousand years.

12. The Stilling of the Storm
References: Matt. 8:18, 23-27; Mk. 4:35-41; Lk. 8:22-25

A scene like this is a cause for wonder. Here the Lord Jesus, the Creator of heaven and earth, is asleep in the stern of a little boat on the Sea of Galilee and a sudden squall swamps the boat and threatens the lives of those abroad. And Jesus slept through it all. Was God asleep? What would happen if God went to sleep? But, “He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep” (Ps. 121:3). Here we are confronted again with the mystery of the Incarnation. The Man Jesus was asleep, but as God He was not asleep.

When awakened by the frantic disciples, Jesus calmly asked, “Where is your faith?” Could the ship sink with the God-man aboard? And He rebuked the wind and the raging of the water, and them was a great calm. No doubt we ourselves, who have had the advantage of studying the completed Word of God, would marvel as much as did the disciples if we were put through a similar experience. “What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” The story could have many spiritual applications to the presence of Christ with us in the many storms of life we all experience.

13. The Healing of the Maniac at Gadara
References: Matt. 8:28-34; Mk. 5:1-20; Lk. 8:26-39

Usually the Gospel of Mark gives an abbreviated account of events but on this occasion it is the longest and gives more details. Some believe that the account in Matthew happened upon a different occasion, because in Matthew there were two demoniacs, and only one is mentioned in Mark and Luke. It seems rather unlikely that two events so similar would happen at the same place with the demons entering the swine and the swine being destroyed by rushing over the cliff into the sea. Here is a possible explanation:

Mark and Luke only speak of one; just as they only speak of one blind man at Jericho and one colt at the entry to Jerusalem. This shows design, not discrepancy. The prophecies immediately preceding Matthew predicted the advent of Christ as King of Israel and Prince of Judah. The Holy Spirit in this first Gospel therefore, records the historic facts that there were two demoniacs, and two blind men, and two animals, for these represent Israel and Judah. No such duality was needed in the other Gospels.

Mark adds such details as when the demoniac saw Jesus “from afar” he ran and worshipped Him; that there were about 2,000 swine; and that after he was healed he began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him; whereas Luke says, “throughout the whole city.” Decapolis is not a city, but a league of ten cities, as the name means.

This story not only shows the power of Christ over the Satanic world and the fact that these spirit beings recognized and confessed who Jesus really was, but it reveals a great deal about demons.

There can be degrees of demon possession. In some cases there was only one demon, in another the one went and found seven others worse than himself and entered into the man, and in this case there must have been a thousand, for their name was Legion. This may explain the super-human strength of the man that enabled him to break the fetters and chains with which the authorities tried to bind him.

Further, these demons requested Jesus to send them into the swine, and Jesus granted the request. They knew that swine were unclean animals and therefore Jesus would be more inclined to grant their request than if they had asked to go into a herd of sheep. But why did they want to go into any creature? We know very little about the nature of demons, but they appear to be disembodied spirits who constantly seek embodiment of some kind. Some think they are the fallen sons of God in Gen. 6:4. They are characterized as being unclean. They are not like Satan who appears as an angel of light and a minister of righteousness, (2 Cor. 11:14). They are degraded and cause those they possess to engage in all kinds of filth and insane behavior.

But what a contrast between this poor soul before and after meeting Jesus. He was sitting, not raging and cutting himself; he was clothed, not naked; and in his right mind, no longer a maniac. One would have thought that the people of the area would have welcomed a healer who could perform such cures, but He had apparently damaged their illegal business, and that coupled with their superstitious fear caused them to ask Jesus to depart and He granted their request, but not before telling the healed man to tell others of his deliverance.

14. The Raising of Jairus’ Daughter
References: Matt. 9:1,18-26; Mk. 5:21-43; Lk. 8:40-56

Again in this incident Mark gives us details omitted by Matthew and Luke. Mark and Luke give the name of the ruler, Jairus. Mark and Luke mention the daughter was near death when Jairus first spoke to Jesus and that as they were on the way to the house the message came that the daughter was dead. Matthew begins with the Ruler saying, My daughter is dead. Mark and Luke both mention the age of the child, twelve years; Matthew doesn’t.

All three mention that the woman with an issue of blood who intercepted Him on the way, had been afflicted twelve years. Twelve is the number of Israel. The physical diseases of the people healed are representative of the moral and spiritual condition of Israel. In just this one chapter 9 of Matthew we see illustrated man’s condition by nature as paralyzed (vs. 2), dead (vs. 18), diseased (vs. 20), blind (vs. 27), and dumb (vs. 32).

Mark also gives details of the woman’s illness and experience with the physicians, having spent all she had without any improvement, but rather had worsened. Mark also tells us that when Jesus said, “Who touched me?” the disciples said, “Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?” Only one in that pushing, shoving crowd really touched Jesus. The woman was fearful and timid but she had strong faith.
Mark and Luke also tell us that Jesus took Peter, James, and John into the house with the parents, after He had expelled the mourners, to raise the child. And Mark alone tells us that Jesus said, “Talitha cumi,” which is Aramaic for “Damsel, arise.” After raising the child He prescribed a good meal. Having been restored by Jesus the child was now in the best of health. When Jesus healed, He restored to perfect and complete health.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

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A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (18)

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CHAPTER V (CONTINUE)

The Middle Galilean Period (Continue)

8. Christ’s Companions on Second Preaching Tour Reference: Lk. 8:1-3

While Jesus did not appoint any women apostles or place women in places of leadership, He did lift the status of women and recognize their place of ministry. On this preaching tour through Galilee He took with Him, not only the Twelve, but three women whose names are mentioned, along with many others who ministered to Him and His apostles of their means. Susanna is mentioned only this once in the N.T. Joanna is mentioned here and in Lk. 3:27 and 24:10. Mary Magdalene is mentioned twelve times: Matt. 27:56,61; 28:1; Mk. 15:40,47; 16:1,9; Lk. 8:2; 24:10; John 19:25; 20:1,18). We have no record of how or when these women became disciples. Nothing is said to identify Susanna. We do know that Joanna was the wife of King Herod’s steward, which is an interesting sidelight. But Mary Magdalene is described as a demon possessed woman out of whom Jesus had cast seven demons. These women seem to have had more spiritual insight than did the apostles.

The two Marys are mentioned together at the sepulchre of Christ watching as Joseph wrapped the body of Jesus in a linen cloth and laid it in the tomb and then rolled a great stone over the door. These same two Marys were the first at the tomb, at daybreak on Sunday morning, and they were the first human beings to see the risen Christ (Mk. 16:9). And when these women told the Apostles Jesus had arisen from the dead, they believed not. God has honored and rewarded these women by placing their names in Holy Writ for hundreds of generations to further honor them for their love and devotion to Christ.

9. The Unpardonable Sin
References: Matt. 12:22-45; Mk. 3:19-30, cf. Lk. 11:14-23; 6:43-45; 11:29-32

The references in this section are quite fragmented, especially in Luke.
First, Mark tells us that the multitudes surrounded Jesus to the extent that no one could so much as eat bread. The friends of Jesus thought He was crazy and went to take charge of Him. (It is not clear whether His friends said He was crazy, or the people who were gathered.) On this occasion Jesus was casting out a demon from a blind and dumb man. When the man spoke and saw, the multitudes marveled, but the Jewish leaders accused Him of casting out demons by the power of the prince of demons. Jesus showed the impossibility of their charge, for if Satan was divided against himself, his power would be destroyed. But if Jesus was casting out demons by the Spirit of God it was evident that the Kingdom of God was manifesting itself.

Then follows what has been called the unpardonable sin, which has been so misinterpreted as to cause many people deep spiritual harm, for fear they have committed it. The character of the sin is said to be blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This sin could not be any sin against Jesus Christ, for Christ plainly stated that sins against Himself were forgivable, but this sin against the Holy Spirit was not forgivable. What is this sin? Do we read anywhere of men thus blaspheming the Holy Spirit?
We believe first that this sin could not be committed until the Holy Spirit was given, and that was after the death and resurrection of Christ. Next, we believe that Israel’s sin against the Son of Man in crucifying Him was forgiven, for Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.” At Pentecost the Holy Spirit was given, and one of the functions of the Spirit was to enlighten and reprove of sin, because they believe not on the Lord Jesus Christ.

After Pentecost the rulers of Israel were no longer acting in ignorance. In rejecting Christ now, they were sinning against the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we read Stephen’s indictment in Acts 7:51: “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did so do ye.” They were resisting the Holy Spirit, but when Paul was raised up as the new apostle of the Gentiles, Paul still had dealings with the people of Israel in the dispersion. On his first missionary journey when he was in Antioch of Pisidia and the Jews opposed him, it is said, “But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.” Again the same thing happened at Corinth: “And when they opposed themselves and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles” (Acts 18:6). And finally the same thing happened when Paul reached Rome as a prisoner and preached to the Jews (Acts 28:25-28). Paul says that he himself was formerly a blasphemer, but he acted ignorantly in unbelief (1 Tim. 1: 13), and in his hatred of Jesus he forced others to blaspheme (Acts 26:11).

Therefore, we believe that this sin against the Holy Spirit was committed by Israel during the book of Acts period. There are many warnings against sin of any kind in Paul’s epistles, but interesting enough, nowhere does he speak of an unforgivable sin in this dispensation of grace.

After this Jesus gave some similitudes of good and bad men bringing forth good and bad fruit, even as good and bad trees do. The importance of spoken words is emphasized. Men will have to give account of every idle or careless word they speak. Men will be justified or condemned by their words.

The next paragraph deals with signs. God has always dealt in signs with Israel. Paul tells us that the Jews require a sign (1 Cor. 1:22). Here the Jews demanded a sign from Jesus to accredit His claims. The only sign He will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. It goes without saying that Jesus knew and believed the story of Jonah to be a true historic event. Those who call this story a myth impugns the testimony of Christ. While the story of Jonah is historically true it is also a parable or illustration of the nation of Israel. Israel had a commission from God to make His name known to the Gentile nations, but like Jonah they refused. As a result God dispersed them among the Gentiles, even as Jonah fled to Tarshish. On board the ship a great storm arose and Jonah was cast overboard into the sea, which is often a figure for the Gentile nations, where Jonah was miraculously preserved, even as Israel has been preserved as a distinct ethnic group over the centuries. As Jonah was vomited up out of the sea, so Israel will again be restored as a nation upon her own land. And finally as Jonah then went to Nineveh and preached and the whole city repented, so Israel, when they are restored, will preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to the nations; the so-called Great Commission will be carried out, and the nations of the earth will be converted. But in the present context Jesus makes the experience of Jonah in the belly of the sea-monster to be typical of His death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus claimed to be greater than Jonah and greater than Solomon: hence the greater the condemnation which would come upon those who had the greater enlightenment and yet did not repent.

The final paragraph in this section is the record of a demon who is evicted and later returns with seven other demons worse than himself, so that the latter end of the one possessed is worse than the first. This is the story of the nation of Israel. They had reformed and evicted the demon of idolatry with which they had been possessed in the days before the dispersion, and now they refuse to be filled with the Spirit of God. When the demon returns he finds Israel “empty, swept, and garnished.” He enters in with even worse companions and takes possession of Israel again. This describes their condition in the time of great tribulation (cf. Rev. 12:13).

10. The True Kindred of Christ
References: Matt. 12:46-50; Mk. 3:31-35; Lk. 8:19-21

We do not think that Jesus showed disrespect for His mother and brothers according to the flesh by apparently denying them and turning to His true disciples and calling the ones who did the will of the Father in heaven, his mother and brethren. Rather Jesus was making it plain that His mother and brothers in the flesh did not have any unique or favored relationship with Himself. As we have seen, Jesus placed Himself in subjection to His earthly parents until He became of age, and even as He was dying on the cross He made provision for His mother (John 19:26,27).

Spiritual ties can bind people more closely together than physical ties. In fact, many times believers find their natural relations antagonistic to spiritual things. Jesus Himself experienced this, for we read: “Neither did His brethren believe in Him.” In fact, Jesus predicted that because of His being rejected by Israel, instead of bringing peace to the world, He would bring division: father divided against son, and son against father; mother against daughter, and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law (Lk. 12:49-53).

11. The Parables of the Mysteries of the Kingdom
References: Matt. 13:1-53; Mk. 4:1-34; Lk. 8:4-18

A. Why Parables? Matt. 13:10-17; Mk. 4:10-12; Lk. 8:9.10. The Greek word “parable” means “something thrown alongside.” The parable places a truth from nature alongside a spiritual one. Since parables are figures of speech used to illustrate spiritual truth, Christ’s answer to the disciples’ question may seem paradoxical: “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” Also He said: “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” Thus, parables were used by Christ to reveal truth to His disciples, and to conceal truth from the unbelieving Jews.

While various spiritual applications may be drawn from the parables, it is most important to understand their primary interpretation. The parables deal with either the subjects of the Kingdom or with the chief Character of the Kingdom, who is depicted under such figures as Nobleman, King, Bridegroom, Builder, Master, Judge, Sower, Husbandman, Shepherd, Physician, Creditor, Rock and Cornerstone. After we understand the primary meaning of the parables, we may make secondary applications to ourselves in this Church age, for the simple reason that there are certain moral and spiritual truths which are unchangeable and apply to mankind in every age.

The parables in this section concern “the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven.” The Kingdom of heaven in Matthew is synonymous with the Kingdom of God in Mark and Luke. This Kingdom is not to be thought of either as God’s general sovereignty over the universe, or as a purely spiritual kingdom which consists of all holy and righteous beings. Both of these aspects of the Kingdom of God have always existed whereas that aspect of the Kingdom which is before us in the Gospels is something that was near at hand at that time, but its establishment was yet future. Therefore, it seems evident that the Kingdom of which Christ spoke was the Davidic, Messianic, earthly Millennial Kingdom which is the subject of Old Testament prophecy.

The word “mystery” in Scripture is not something mysterious, but rather something which had been kept secret but is now revealed. There was nothing secret about God’s purpose to establish the Messianic Kingdom upon the earth. This was one of the main burdens of Old Testament prophecy. What then is the secret about the Kingdom which these parables reveal? As we understand it, the secret is that the Kingdom was not to be established at the first coming of the Messiah, but at His second coming. The Jews expected that the Kingdom would appear immediately (Lk. 19:11). Instead, Christ taught that the Messiah must first die, and then there must be the worldwide sowing of the Gospel of the Kingdom, during which good and evil would grow up together until the end of the age, at which time He would return, judge the nations, and establish His Kingdom. Old Testament prophecy does not distinguish between the two comings of Christ and the interval in between. Isa. 61:1 is an example. Thus far a period of 2000 years has intervened between. the first and last clauses of this verse. The same is true concerning the 70 heptads of years which Daniel prophesied unto the establishment of the Kingdom. There is no intimation that 2000 years would intervene between the 69th and the 70th heptad. It is therefore not exactly correct to state that Christ came the first time to offer the Kingdom to Israel. He did preach that the Kingdom was near, but He came to present Himself to Israel as the Messiah, to be rejected, and to die a sacrificial death. It was only after this that the Kingdom could be offered to Israel, as indeed it was in the early chapters of the Acts. Those who fail to understand the meaning of the mysteries of the Kingdom teach that Christ came the first time to offer and establish the Kingdom, and that since Israel rejected the offer, God began something entirely new and different on the Day of Pentecost.

Before looking at the parables themselves, we might ask: Why would Christ adopt a method of teaching which would keep certain people from understanding the truth? To answer this, we must understand something about what is called “judicial blindness.” This means that when people harden their hearts toward God and close their eyes to the light, He confirms their action and keeps them in the dark. Christ quoted Isa. 6:9,10; read Matt. 13:13-15; Mk. 4:12; Lk. 8:10; John 12:39-41; Acts 28:25-27; and Rom. 11:7-12. All of these passages speak of the judicial blindness which God pronounced upon the people of Israel, first in Isaiah’s day, then in Christ’s day, and finally in Paul’s day. In all three cases Israel closed their eyes to the light which God gave them, and as a judgment God sealed their eyes shut. This blindness of Israel was not total, that is, not all Israelites were blinded, for some did believe. Paul states that “blindness in part has happened unto Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in, and then all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:25,26).

It should be noted that while Matthew records seven “mystery” parables, Mark and Luke record only the first one, about the Sower. Mark then relates the parable of the candle and the parable of the unconscious growth, before giving another of the mystery parables, that of the Mustard Seed. Luke also mentions the Mustard Seed and the Leaven in a different context (13:18-21).

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

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