Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Year Two, April 26

She Loved Much1
Luke 7:36-50
36One of the Pharisees asked [Jesus] to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. 37And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.
We are not informed how she came to know and love the Savior. It may be that some gracious word of his had stopped her from her life of sin and shame, a life of misery and despair that was rushing to its end. She was filled with deep repentance. Moved with holy reverence for the Lord, she brought the greatest treasure she owned and used it all for him. Not wanting to call attention to herself, she stood behind him, washing his feet in her humility, weeping in sorrow over her sins, kissing his feet for love, and using her hair as a towel. All of this was done out of supreme devotion to her Lord, to who she owed everything. Happy the woman who is able to show her dedicated devotion to her Lord.
39Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”
This Pharisee had not shown our Lord the respect he should have and now his opinion of him drops even more. He could not believe that any good man would allow a woman like this to come so near to him. Simon did not understand Jesus, but Jesus understood Simon well enough, and therefore he spoke to him.
40And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”
41“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more”? 43Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
Self-righteous people can never serve like those who serve out of love. They do their duty because they feel forced to, rather than with the zest and delight of those who serve out of true affection. The attempt to save ourselves by our own merits never brings out the heartfelt emotion and complete devotion that grows from a sense of grace received and sin pardoned. In our own case, do we not have reasons to love the Lord intensely? He who writes these words feels that above all men, he is obligated to love his forgiving Master. Do not others feel the same?
48And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” (Her act of love to Jesus was rewarded with a fresh expression of his love for her, another assurance of forgiveness. Gratitude for previous favors is the sure way to receive more.) 49Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (He did not bother to rebuke the disrespectful murmurers. But he did continue to comfort the loving repentant sinner. He honored her faith and assured her that his peace went with her on her way, because he did not wish her to be disturbed by the cruel words spoken by others.)
From this story we should learn how delighted Jesus is to forgive great sinners, since they bring him great love in return. Also, see how free his mercy is, since he clearly forgives those who have nothing to pay.
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1 Luke 7:47

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Year Two, April 25

All That the Father Gives Me Will Come to Me1
The remarkable portion of Scripture that we are about to read contains in a small space three great truths: Human responsibility, the sovereignty of electing love, and the free proclamation of the gospel. If we cannot understand how they all work together, we must, nevertheless, believe them and wait for clearer light.
  
Matthew 11:20-30
20Then [Jesus] began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent.
Therefore it is clear that they should have repented. Jesus would not have found fault with them for not repenting, if they were not expected to repent.
21“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. (This is a very mysterious statement. It says that his mighty works were not done among those who would have repented, but were done among those who refused to repent. The way of the Lord is far above the understanding of men.) 22But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. (The open sin of the Sidonians was shameful in the extreme and yet they were not as guilty as those who had deliberately refused the gospel. Therefore their punishment would be less.  The Lord goes on to make the same point with another illustration.) 23And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”
Sodom’s doom is fearful beyond imagination. What will be the doom of those who openly despise the gospel? Our Lord then changed his subject and spoke about sovereign grace.2
25At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
 The creator of election is God the Father. The Lord of heaven and earth has the right to choose to whom he will reveal himself. And who does he reveal himself to? Little children. And what reason does he give for his choice? Only that it was his “gracious will.” Next, our Lord explains that he, himself, is the great means by which the blessings of electing love flow down to those whom he has chosen. The doctrines of grace are as true as the fact of our responsibility. The two truths agree as one, even though few can see where they meet. Salvation is God’s gift and the result of his grace alone.3 Damnation is man’s fault and his fault alone.
The third part of our reading contains a full, free, personal, invitation to sinners to come to Jesus now. No ministry is complete where this is kept in the background. As we read it may we feel the drawing influence of the Holy Spirit and find rest in Jesus right now.
28“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Is there one here, who has until now refused the invitation? Let him come now! Come, and welcome. Remember it is not to outward religious acts or to priests that you are to come, but to Jesus himself. He, and he alone can give perfect rest to all who are obedient to him.)
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1 John 6:37
2 sovereign grace - A term indicating that salvation is entirely the result of God’s mercy and grace. A person is incapable of contributing anything to his own salvation.
3 Spurgeon is in his element here. “Sola gratia” (Latin for “Grace alone”). One of his most popular books, “All of Grace” continues to be available in many editions.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Year Two, April 24

The Son Gives Life to Whom He Will1
Luke 7:1-17
1After [Jesus] had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him.
He was a good master and had a good servant. Therefore they were on good terms. It is rare to see this kind of relationship these days.
3When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, 5for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” 6And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. (The Jews called him worthy, but he did not think he was. He who enjoys the good opinion of others, and does not allow pride to get the better of him, is a sensible person.) 7Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. (Give the word, and the disease will fly away without your needing to come personally. This was grand faith.) 8For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” (The centurion was a low ranking officer, but his word was still law. He correctly reasoned that the word of the Lord Jesus would be equally powerful over all the realms of nature. He had only to say to the disease “Go,” and it would be gone. Only grace could have taught him to come to such a good assumption.)
9When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well. (The Jews had praised the centurion’s works, but the Lord fixed his eye on his faith. Faith is the jewel that Jesus prizes the most. Do we each and all possess it?)
11Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her.
Death quite often takes away the young. If the Lord had willed it, one of us might have died today and the rest of the family would have spent this day in mourning. The poor widowed mother who mourned her only son was immediately noticed by the tender Jesus. He spoke to her with a voice of deepest sympathy.
13And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14Then he came up and touched the bier,2 and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.
Oh, that he would give spiritual life to those of this family who are dead in sin! No matter how young and honest, excellent and friendly a young man or woman may be, they must be brought to new life by the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, they remain “dead in trespasses and sins.”3 Jesus can give that spiritual life and a mother’s tears will go far to touch his heart and win the blessing.
16Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” 17And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.
In this way, the name of Jesus became well known and talked about by many people, even as it is among his own saints today. Blessed, blessed forever, be the Friend of Man!
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1 Matthew 11:5
2 bier - a stand on which a casket containing a corpse is carried to the grave.
3 Ephesians 2:1

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Year Two, April 23

The Poor Have Good News Preached to Them1
Matthew 11:2-19
2Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”
Had his sufferings depressed his spirit? We do not think so. He probably sent his disciples, so their faith would be strengthened.
4And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” (These are the clear proofs of the true Messiah’s mission. Among all of them, there is no greater wonder of grace than the preaching of the gospel to the poor. Other teachers had shut them out, but Jesus made them the special objects of his ministry.)
7As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? (Was John a man who was easily influenced and would adapt his message to please people? Was he a man who would give in just to keep the peace? Not at all! He had no doubts about his mission and he was not a coward.) 8What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. 9What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10This is he of whom it is written,
“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way before you.’
11Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
He was just the first faint light of a new dawn. We who live in the full blaze of day have greater privileges than he had. John’s heart never rejoiced at the words, “It is finished,” like ours have.
12From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. (There is no such thing as winning this kingdom by halfhearted efforts. Endurance is needed for success in this life and much more for the life to come. Grace in the heart leads men to “strive to enter through the narrow door.”2 Oh that we could see more holy violence in the church of God. Laziness and inactivity are robbing Jesus of his honor and the church of its success.) 13For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
16“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,
17 “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’”
They could not agree what to play. Some of them said, “Let’s pretend we are at a wedding,” and began to play the flute, but the others would not dance. “Well, then,” they said, “let us pretend we are at a funeral,” and they began to mourn, but their stubborn companions would not join them in their mock sorrow. In much the same way, it is hard to find pastors who please people. One is accused of preaching on and on and saying nothing and another is charged with being too logical or dull. If one preacher is condemned for being too tasteless, another is criticized for his flowery style. There is no satisfying such finicky tastes. If our heart is right, then we will remember George Herbert’s words: “Judge not the preacher, he is your judge.”3
18“For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”
God knows best whom to send and we should be alert and profit from all of them.
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1 Matthew 11:5
2 Luke 13:24
3 From the George Herbert poem, “The Church-porch” (circa 1614).

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Year Two, April 22

Power Came out From Him1
Luke 6:12-36
12In these days (while Jesus was by the sea, near Capernaum) he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.
It was his practice to spend time in special prayer before any great event of his life. He was about to send out the first missionaries, but he would do nothing until he had prayed.
13And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: 14Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
17And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, 18who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all. (This created another great opportunity for preaching and our Lord took advantage of it. We now find him preaching the Sermon on the Plain.  It resembles the Sermon of the Mount in many ways. It has four beatitudes and four woes and uses almost the same words as the previous message.)
20And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. (They were poor and they were his disciples. They were poor in spirit as well as in finances and therefore blessed. We must understand all these beatitudes spiritually or we will make serious mistakes in understanding their meaning.)
21“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
22“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.
24“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. (For the most part those who are rich despise religion. “Gold and the gospel seldom do agree,” says Bunyan.2)
25“Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. (Those who need the things of this world to be satisfied will find they will soon be gone and an empty eternity will follow.)
“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. (To spend life in thoughtless amusements and chasing after happiness is to store up sorrow.)
26“Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. (To be a favorite of the world is dangerous. If the ungodly crowd loves someone, then God does not love him.)
27“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. 30Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.”
It is better to suffer any loss than argue the point and end up in a court of law. Lawsuits are more likely to increase the loss than to restore it.
31“And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
32“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. (This excellent godlike principle of doing good without hope of return should be on display in professing Christians more than it is. Let it be our prayer that we may live our life by this rule.)
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1 Luke 6:19
2 John Bunyan (1628-1688)

Friday, April 20, 2018

Year Two, April 21

You Shall Keep My Sabbaths1
Matthew 12:1-21
1At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. (They did not do this to idly pass the time, but because they were hungry. Jewish law allowed them to take grain to eat as they walked through fields.2 The only reason the Pharisees used it as an excuse to renew their old quarrel was because the disciples happened to do it on the Sabbath.) 2But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.”
One would have thought that it was surely permissible to relieve hunger on the Sabbath; but the Pharisees claimed it was an act of harvesting when they picked it and even an act of threshing when they saw the disciples rub the ears of grain in their hands. Some men are great at letting their emotions get the best of them and overreacting about nothing.
3He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: 4how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests. (Necessity has no law. God never intended that men should die of hunger just to keep a day holy.) 5Or have you not read in the law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? 6I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. (Works done for God are praiseworthy even on the Sabbath. If the Lord himself was present and did not find fault with his disciples, then it was not the place for others to complain.) 7And if you had known what it means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”
God did not intend for the fourth commandment to be used cruelly or to forbid the doing of that which is absolutely necessary. The law of the Sabbath is under the power of Jesus, who is the Lord of love. Keeping the Lord’s Day is not a burden, but a delight.
9He went on from there and entered their synagogue. 10And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” —so that they might accuse him. 11He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? 12Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. (Jesus left no doubt about the true place of the Sabbath. He refused to be a prisoner of Jewish tradition.) 14But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.
15Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. (He went to the coastline of the Sea of Galilee.) And many followed him, and he healed them all 16and ordered them not to make him known. 17This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah:
18 “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
19 He will not quarrel or cry aloud,
nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets;”
He did not seek either popularity or controversy.
20 “a bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory;”
He left those fuming Pharisees and the weak reeds of scribes and doctors until a future time. He did not care to utterly extinguish or crush their broken power.
21 “and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”
Quiet as he was, he is our hope and joy. Our soul rests on him.
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1 Leviticus 19:30
2 See Leviticus 19:9-10

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Year Two, April 20

Jesus Christ Is Lord1
When the Jews found fault with our Lord for working a miracle on the Sabbath, he replied with overwhelming arguments.
  
John 5:17-42
17But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” (The laws of nature, which are the work of God, do not stop because it is the Sabbath. God and his Christ are completely above law. Men could not keep the Sabbath if the power of God was not at work to keep them alive.)
18This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
19So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. 20For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. (He declared his own unity and equality with God, even though it caused the anger against him to grow even greater.) 21For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
25“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27And he has given him authority to execute judgment, 28Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
30“I can do nothing on my own. (He never acted independently from the Father. He was always the Word of God.) As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. 31If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not deemed true. (He acknowledges that people usually object to a person testifying for their own interest and refers to other evidence.) 32There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. 33You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. 37And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39You search the Scriptures because you think that in them, you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, (He appeals to the Scripture because they held  it in high respect. Truly it is filled with proof concerning him.) 40yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. (Sadly, this is still true of mankind!) 41I do not receive glory from people. 42But I know that you do not have the love of God within you.
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1 Philippians 2:11

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Year Two, April 19

Only Believe1
John 5:1-14
1After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
By going to Jerusalem, Jesus was honoring his Father’s law and at the same time taking advantage of the crowds of people to spread the gospel.
2Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic, called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed [waiting for the moving of the water; 4for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool, and stirred the water: whoever stepped in first after the stirring of the water was healed of whatever disease he had].2 5One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”
His question was asked to excite the man’s hope that had grown listless after waiting for so long and having so many disappointments. The same question may well be asked of those who have been seeking salvation by the outward means of grace3 for years, but without success.
7The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.”
As if to prove his desire to be healed, the man gives a heartrending story about not having friends to help him to the pool. Sinners should imitate this man and tell their story of helplessness to the Good Physician.
8Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” (Forget about watching and waiting. Believe my word, rise up and walk. This is the way that the gospel brings an end to all our natural efforts or our waiting around for something to happen. The command to be saved calls for an immediate response. “Believe in the Lord Jesus and wait no longer at the pool,” is what is needed.) 9And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.
Faith in the almighty word of Jesus brings immediate healing to our souls. Why, then, do so many linger year after year, waiting for they know not what? Angels will not now come from heaven and even if they did, they could not save us. But there is eternal life in the message of mercy. Salvation is ours immediately if we will obey it.
Now that day was the Sabbath. 10So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” 11But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’” (This man, who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years, could not have given a more excellent reason for carrying his bed than the one he gave for the miracle that had just happened. “The man who healed me told me to do it.” Notice that where Jesus works a gracious cure he also gives the gift of obedience. From the moment we are saved, his commands become law to us.) 12They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place.
Salvation may come to those who have only a limited knowledge of the gospel. If we believe in the person and word of Jesus we will be taught more of both as time goes on.
14Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”
Those who are healed need to be instructed, to prevent them from sinning in the future. It is to the advantage of everyone who has received any amount of grace to watch against the returns of sin, because they may bring even greater trouble with them. Happy for us, that our Lord does not desert us after he has restored us. Instead, he visits us by the Holy Spirit with his divine teachings.
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1 Mark 5:36
2 The ESV does not include the words in brackets in the text. Rather, they are included in a footnote that reads: “Some manuscripts insert,” etc.
3 means of grace - The practice of valid religious duties such as attending church services, reading the Bible, praying, being baptized, treating others with kindness, and giving financial support.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Year Two, April 18

The Son of Man Came to Seek and to Save the Lost1
Mark 2:1-22
1And when [Jesus] returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.
The man who has godly neighbors making every effort to see him saved is highly favored.
4And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. (They believed all they needed to do was bring their sick friend where Jesus would see him. They were determined to overcome any difficulties. If we loved people’s souls better, we would more often look for unusual ways to bring them to the Savior.) 5And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven. (He struck at the root of his disease. When sin is forgiven, every other evil is small in comparison.) 6Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7“Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
8And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
13He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 14And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. (This was Matthew the tax collector. The Master’s voice said little, but its effect was great. Two words are enough to win a man to Jesus if they are accompanied by the power of the Spirit. As soon as he was converted, Matthew gave a banquet, so his former friends could meet Jesus.)
15And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
18Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 19And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. 21No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”
Everything should be in harmony. To force babes in Christ to live the same way as mature Christians would be unnatural. Inflexible rules for behavior are no more acceptable to the free spirit of Christianity, than placing new, fermenting wine into an old wineskin.
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1 Luke 19:10