PARTNERS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: PART LXI
Jesus’s urgency to explain what “His Mission” was became more pressing. Also, Jesus needed more students (disciples) to partner with Him, and He needed a place large enough to accommodate the crowds. The synagogues and schools became unfriendly and they were too small. Jesus’ deeds and Jesus’ thoughts made Him an overnight sensation. The seashores became His lecture hall. The people were hungry to see and hear more of Him; for, Jesus was a “Breath of fresh Air.”
JESUS’ FAME SPREAD BEYOND CAPERNAUM
In Capernaum, Jesus began “His Ministry” in a synagogue and He finished the day in the home of Peter’s mother-in-law. Synagogues were intended to feed the people “Manna from Heaven,” that would strengthen them so that they could face their trials and temptations. Unfortunately, that mission had long been aborted. And that plight has hit far too many Christian Churches. What did Jesus do, after He attended a synagogue? Could we try and endure it for just one day? To begin with, when we hear the message of salvation, we cannot close our hearts or delay responding, for time for man does not stand still and every hour that he/she waits is lost forever. God did not spare the Israelites in the desert, nor did God spare the Jews under Rome, and neither will God spare the Gentiles, who toy with their eternal souls and eternal spirits (Psalm 95:7-11; Romans 11:17-24).
And immediately he left the synagogue, and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever, and immediately they told him of her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her; and she served them. That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered together about the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him pursued him, and they found him and said to him, “Every one is searching for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out.” And he went throughout all Galilee preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.
And a leper came to him beseeching him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And he sternly charged him, and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to any one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to the people.” But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in the country; and people came to him from ever quarter (Mark 1:29-45).
JESUS’ URGENCY WAS HALTED BY A GOOD DEED
Jesus’ intention was to spread His Message and His Deeds in as many places as possible. Yet, after only one man disobeyed Jesus’ order, “to keep silent,” caused Jesus to go back to Capernaum, in secret. Why did Jesus not stop the leper from disclosing Him like He did the evil spirit? The evil spirit knew Jesus as the Son of God the Creator, and that, to the Jews, was a fatal crime. The leper knew Jesus only as a miracle worker and prophet, which was quite common at the time. Nevertheless, good deeds and personal experiences are not always useful or even helpful to those who are kind toward the benefactors and toward their recipients (Matthew 6:1-4). Capernaum could not hide Jesus because the tongue is hard to manage, even when it whispers. Now, not only the public began to crowd the city, but the Jewish leaders, in Jerusalem, sent their experts and their spies to find out who Jesus was. The city of Capernaum was an open town; and therefore, Judea had no jurisdiction over Galilee. The synagogue’s leader was friendly to Jesus and so was the Roman Centurion. Hereinafter, Jesus performed some great miracles and taught some profound lessons. It is very likely, that John Mark came to Capernaum at this time. And therfore, John Mark began to stay nearby until Jesus finished His work. While Jesus went about in Galilee, John Mark and the Jewish leaders were not too concerned. But when Jesus made His way into Judea, where He had to die, the leaders felt threatened. Hence, John Mark reports mainly the last three weeks of Jesus’ life and not the beginning. Capernaum and the area provided the environment where Jesus did most of His teaching and His work on the sea shore.
And when Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and he was preaching the word to them. And they came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And 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 pallet on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak thus? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question thus in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your pallet and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic—“I say to you, rise, take up our pallet and go home.” And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before the all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 2:1-12).
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CALL OF LEVI
Jesus took the crowd to the seashore, where He kept on teaching. Mark had no knowledge of what Jesus taught. But in the miracle performed earlier, Jesus dealt with the word, faith, sin, and the human duty and also the power to forgive. A person who would understand this kind of teaching — would be a Levi. Moses had entrusted the Word of God and the Law to the Levite tribe to guard and also to teach it. The Law contained the instructions on faith, on sin, and on forgiveness. It also placed the task of forgiveness on the shoulders of man. Hence, the power to forgive granted to the Son of man, has also been granted to all men and to all women, this according to Levi in Matthew 6:14-15. Jesus did not just choose Matthew Levi for being an outcast, but Jesus choose Matthew Levi for being an expert in human behavior and in human conduct. That is why so many Levites became friends of Jesus because the Jewish leaders had aborted and perverted the Law of Moses.
He (Jesus) went out again beside the sea; and all the crowd gathered about him, and he taught them. And as he passed on, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
And as he sat at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were sitting with Jesus and his disciples; for there were any who followed him. And 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?” And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:13-17).
SIN BEGINS IN THE MIND (HEART) AND NOT IN THE FLESH
The paralytic, while he was physically unable, what sin could he possible commit? Handicapped people are not exempt from sinning. The mind is active, even in a decrepit body. A defective mind alone can cripple a body. The paralytic’s sin is not mentioned, but the four men, who felt responsible for him, suggests that they may have had some impropriety in the mental state of the sick man. For, as soon as his mind was set free, from the feeling of sin he had, the paralytic could get up and carry his own stretcher home. He also could believe that the “Command of Jesus” could cure him and that is exactly what happened. He had enough faith to be well without the faith of the four friends. In a similar situation, I also have had enough faith when my burned body depended on the strength of my mind, the faith to heal, and the determination to recover. I made a mistake and I had to live with it for sixty-nine years. I only have myself to blame, and not God or anyone else. Nobody passed on their mistakes or sins to me. I became what I am, in spite of the good help of many God sent and not what God has made. What God made was very good (Genesis 1:31). Adam and Eve let the devil in and so do you and I (Genesis 3). Is our time any different from the days of Isaiah or Jesus when the Romans dispersed the Jews?
Woe to those who draw in iniquity with cords of falsehood, who draw sin as with card ropes, who say: “Let him make haste, let him speed his work that we may see it; let the purpose of the Holy One of Israel draw near, and let it come, that we may know it!” Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! Who to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of his right!
Therefore, as the tongue of the fire devours the stubble, and as dry grass sinks down in the flame, so their root will be as rottenness, and their blossom go up like dust; for they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts, and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. Therefore the anger of the anger of the LORD was kindled against his people, and he stretched out his hand against them and smote them, and the mountains quaked; and their corpses were as refuse in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away and his hand is stretched out still.
He will raise a signal for a nation afar off, and whistle for it from the ends of the earth; and lo, swiftly, speedily it comes! None is wear, none stumbles, none slumbers or sleeps, not a waistcloth is loose, not a sandal-thong broken; their arrows are sharp, all their bows bent, their horses’ hoofs seem like flint and their heels like the whirlwind (Isaiah 5:18-39).
And Jesus called the people to him again, and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a man (person) which by going into him can defile him: but the things which come out of a man are what defile him. And when he entered the house, and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a man from outside cannot defile him, since it enters, not his heart but his stomach, and so passes on?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornicaion, heft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within; and they defile a man” (Mark 7:14-23).
Mark’s understanding was strengthened by Matthew and James with additional sayings of Jesus:
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell (Matthew 5:27-30).
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted of God”; for God cannot be tempted with evil and He himself tempts no one; but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it is conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death (James 1:13-15).