AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH, Sunday July 15, 2012
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith
The Messiah in Message and Motion
MESSAGE IN MOTION
Mark 7:31 - 8:21
A Practicalities 7:31-37
We enter this morning at the Messiah's healing of a deaf mute. He could not hear and he had some impediment in speech. Christ took him aside. It was no mere public demonstration but a work with an individual on the part of the Great Physician, to whom no man is comparable, for here is the direct power of the Creator, re-creating, curing, performing at the initial level which made us. Putting His fingers in the ears of the man, He also put spittle on his tongue. He looked to the Sender as power-source in combination, for work on earth, sighed since earth laid on Him a heavy burden (Mark 5:30), and stated the command: "Be opened,"
just as once before He had told wind and wave to be stilled!
looking above speaks volumes. If Christ looked to His Father in works, how much
more should His disciples look to Him in faith continually: as it says in Psalm
"they looked to Him and were radiant." " This poor man," it continues, "cried out, and the Lord heard him!" Again in Isaiah 45:22-23, LOOK TO ME, the Lord counsels, all you ends of the earth and be saved! surprisingly this coheres with 44:23-23 where God shows the wonder of His blotting out of sin in His own salvation.
Result of this work of Christ: Hearing and speech alike were restored, and despite the request not to broadcast this, they were only the more moved to proclaim it.
It is apparent that some of the means of compassion, used by Christ, were not isolated events as if a test (though there was a testing element), but to be seen in terms of the total ministry of truth, showing that power was not lacking where kindness dwelt, but that for all that, this is not a testament of power by itself, like the work of some mad dictator, but of power in compassion, through faith to lead man from his self-destruct mode to salvation, and that in a total change of heart and allegiance that is actual and not merely formal, that has heart in it and not mere appearance.
What was the reaction of the people to this intimate miracle ? Their speech is an excerpt from Isaiah 35:5. He has done ALL THINGS WELL, they say. Well ? all things ? Isaiah had shown this of the Messianic mission time (as in Isaiah 7,9,11,22,32, 40-55 and on), that "the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped."
All this was to be part of this new season of God's self-manifestation as so often forecast, where the new would displace the old in terms of His advent and commission on earth(cf. Hosea 13:14, Ezekiel 34). If the Lord Jesus had NOT done THESE very things, there would have been a vacancy in the predicted mission, and things might be doubted. Now however, such marvels were most securely seen, and so He had with the rest of His actions and foci, "done all things well." This shows incidentally that they were acutely aware of the Messianic phase that would come, and were bent on assessing Him as the very One! In a moment, we will return to this, and find others doing their own slanted work of assessment!
B Priorities and Pollutants
Mark 8:1 - 8:21
We now find further motion, like that of a ship on the moving waves, each dip according to design for such a case. People have followed Him for a remarkable three days! What an abundance of action and power, teaching and compassion. What was ever like it! However, now hunger blows hard the little vessels. Christ is not immune to genuine expressions of interest and alert pursuit of His salvation, and feeling compassion, proceeded with a second miracle of the former kind with the 5000, this time miraculously feeding from a small bundle of lunch, 4000. At that, Pharisees, arid traditionalists adding the word of man to that of God, like Romanism and many another sect today (cf. Mark 7:7ff., refer SMR pp. 1032-1088H), asked for a sign. After all of the above! This blatant blindness of spirit met with rebuke: no sign would be given to this type of approach (Mark 8:12).
Signs ? These were select in significance, not amplified in kind, and were intended to meet those who sought, sort out those who came, and not regale playboy philosophers or religious bigots, whose concern was their own system and not the word of God. Their desire was not even to KNOW Him, when with all the MANY SIGNS He had wrought. He was available to faith and to observation alike.
Of these, His works, each came with the character of the grace of God, and these cavilling critics merely shuffled the spiritual feet and asked questions virtually inane! It is like asking for food at a supply depot, when you have just finished a lavish gourmet, three-course meal. He had inscribed in history the plenary works and words of God.
As He with the disciples left the scene, it was found (rather ironically, and yet rather admirably in terms of forgetting their own needs), they had not taken bread. Beware, said Christ of the leaven of the Pharisees and that of Herod. These were the traditionalists and the political activists in the religious field.
The disciples began to wonder what this meant. Christ, discerning this, marvelled that in the two episodes, one feeding 5000 hungry souls and the other some 4000, that they did not see the point. PRIORITIES were what was in point. IF you do what is required in the matrix, the motion of grace, the work of God, then these things will be supplied (Matthew 6:33). What is IMPORTANT rather is the MEANING and the TEACHING, the faith and the findings, not the stuff for the mouth. Get the first clear, and walking with God, the second takes care of itself.
MESSAGE IN MEANING
Mark 8:22 - 35
Swift and in motion majestic in the very midst of waves of events, like a giant liner plunging from docks to the ocean, Christ now moves more decisively from action to interpretation, deeds to meaning, wonders to wisdom freely with His disciples.
A Healing and Phasing 8:22-26
He finds a blind man. They BEGGED Him to touch him. He did more, with that liberality when faith is active with the word of God. He took him BY THE HAND, better than any dog or instrument, away from the throng, put spittle on his eyes and His hands on him. What could more intimately show the INVOLVEMENT of God with man, not distant and featureless, but grandly involved to the least detail. He then ASKED him of the result.
He could only see dimly, men like trees walking. He put His hands on his eyes again, and asked him to look up, this leading to total restoration of sight. LOOK UP! One must see not the sensation but the Sent One, and His source and mission: not being clammy with clay, but awakened to the grace given from the source! As subordinate to saving faith in Himself as Saviour, this was not to be a subject for fame, apparently lest a surge of wilful and merely self-seeking healing should overwhelm the purpose of it all. After all, if the means of attracting man to God should become one more idol, what would be the good of that!
Such was the case in Numbers 21:9, II Kings 18:4, when the bronze serpent used in healing, became an object of worship. Interestingly, the serpent was symbolic of sin, so that its lifting up on a pole in the wilderness, as Christ showed in John 3:15, was a parallel to His own being lifted up, much later, the actual sin-bearer, on the cross. So do ancient symbols persistently speak of basic themes, God in His wisdom giving many inlets to the exposition of grace, sacrifice and salvation, like fiords. admitting the ocean.
In all these things, the critical essence of His salvation was in focus, as His power and His compassion. The thing moved more deeply.
B Facts and Phrasing 8:27-33
Challenged as to the identity of Jesus, Peter by the inspiration of the Father, saw the Jesus as the actual Son of the living God (Matthew 16:17), and so the Messiah (Psalm 2). This finding he shared freely. Yet it was but shortly afterwards, that he acted with a quasi-papal presumption, seeking to educate this very SON from heaven, on things celestial, as if he had some special status in his own right. True Peter had identified the petra or massive rock foundation of the Church in so speaking, but - a play on words, he, Petros had no part in that divine foundation, being used merely in identifying the One found! THAT rock (God only is the Rock - Psalm 62:1-2, 18:31, II Samuel 22:32-33, Isaiah 44:8), seen by faith, unsubduable, alone would stand to rebuke and declare. Peter there and then being shrivellingly subdued as having been misled by Satan in his presumption, gained a lesson not forgotten as in I Peter 5.
Many wrote the Bible at God's command (I Peter 1:10ff., II Peter 1:19ff., I Corinthians 2:9ff., Isaiah 34:16). Their joint works from on high form a doctrinal basis; but only Christ is the cornerstone, even then (Ephesians 2:20). Only One paid for pardon, the end of priests as of all atoning sacrifice (Hebrews 1-9).
The SON OF THE LIVING GOD is not a substitute in phrasing for the condition of the heart, but a designation of what is FOUND. It affects salvation in Christ, when realised, for you then find your God (cf. Isaiah 40:9-11). It is this which forms the basis for the Christian Church, Christ, God incarnate, realised as foundational and unique, deity alone, on earth. Much follows, as Peter found, at once. If this be the heir of the worlds (Hebrews 1:2), of all things, by whom the Father made the world, then He is not manipulable by man who is a sinner, severed from grace by unrepentant follies (Ephesians 2, 4). It is He who has come from the eternity of heaven's haven to a vicious earth, to make vicarious offering for sin, not to be taught wisdom by those in its thrall, or methods of wisdom by those hobbled by unholiness.
If this be the heir of the worlds (Hebrews 1:2), of all things, by whom the Father made the world, then He is not manipulable by man who is a sinner, severed from grace by unrepentant follies (Ephesians 2, 4). It is He who has come from the eternity of heaven's haven to a vicious earth, to make vicarious offering for sin, not to be taught wisdom by those in its thrall, or methods of wisdom by those hobbled by unholiness.
The term The LORD in this religious setting (Luke 19:34), is not sensationalism but fact. One must LEARN from Him. There is ONE Master, ONE Lord, ONE sent Saviour, ONE who being focussed as the incarnate divine singularity, has singular LORDSHIP without human addition or variation, conferring power on those who use it, they being subject to correction, so that all should follow HIS words as He those of His Father (John 14:21-23, 12:48-50).
There is singularity in the Father who sends, the Son who saved and the Spirit which applies it all; and in all, there is the singularity of one Being, active in three Persons, who founded the universe, its laws, legions of forms and formats, and their integration for a spiritual purpose, marred by sin, cursed in its folly, ready for deliverance from its deadly perils. This therefore is by one only, in one way only for one purpose only, restoration to the deity who made it all, by the Son who came, unmanipulable, neither subject to addition nor to counsel, but a gift by grace, which works wonders for those who receive Him by faith, as He is.
C Faith and Structure 8:34-38
Thus there is for faith a structure, not a coast for psychological invasion. Just as there is one Father, one Saviour sent and one mode of salvation, so there is one consequence in heart, one way of life, one surrender to God as God, one cross per person, to take up as one moves on daily, this not as an ornament of neck but a cancellation of wilfulness into the disciplined seeking of the will of God, with follow-through in the same. It is as with a good sweeping shot in tennis, for there is a follow-through. What follows faith is not a featureless service of phrasings, but of spiritual phasings, all bound in one and found in many applications.
Control the world ? if you will, it is your sensational desire. But self-control is more important: Proverbs 16:32 -
"He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city."
Control the Lord as Peter sought to do ? For some, it is your quarry, perhaps ? but to be under His control is a delicious thing, like that of a coach plus nurse plus master plus a splendour of all wisdom and understanding, surging from love and found in faith, based on fact. Your cross ? TAKE IT UP! It is specially made for you, not to be cross-patchy, but cross-bought and -taught, secured by the ransom, sent by the Spirit, secured by the mercy of God (cf. Titus 2-3, II Timothy 1:8-10).
See it all, then, both in message and in motion. Here is Christ testifying in word and deed, power and healing, wisdom and personal salvation for man, alert, purposeful, watchful, purging, purifying, securing the flock in safety (John 10:9,27-28), telling the issues acutely, lest any rest in misunderstanding, yet not pampering with pap. Again, He is like a captain, keeping the decks clean and the way straight, in His spiritual vessel leading many souls to salvation. Make sure yours is one of them, by the same faith as Peter's in the Rock not made with hands (Daniel 2:45), but eternal (John 17:3, 8:58), and so subject to the understanding given by Christ, able to grow, knowing the joy of the Lord.
It is He, celestially sent for the purpose, who is the only Rock, as further attested by the apostle Paul (I Corinthians 10:1-4, 3:11), He being the active LORD of the Old Testament and so again, the only spiritual rock in existence (Isaiah 44:8, Matthew 23:8-10).This site, situation, function and splendour, Jesus Christ showed so exclusively, tellingly and clearly: ready to give rebuke, such as Peter suffered at the foundational level; or healing if as often, He met raw need with real power; or understanding in heart. He, not a church, sinner or aspirant, died, rose and paid for sin that He might become Lord of all (Romans 14:9). He, only, qualifies as Saviour, hence as Lord (Mark 8:35-38).
Him one must attest, confess, since this is the truth. There is not other Rock or name given among men by which, through faith by grace, they must be saved (Acts 4:11-12). All other claimants, direct, indirect, spiritual, secular, are but impostors. Thus those who name Him are not civic objects, but pastorally kept, proceeding now as seeing Him who is invisible beyond all, glorious in mercy, magnificent in peace, welcomed to heaven (Acts 3:19-21), thence to return.
IFrom magnificence He came (John 17:1-3, John 8:58), and in the ending of His atonement (Hebrews 9:12-28), redemption and then rule on this earth, the very universe is not pure enough (Isaiah 51:6,Habakkuk 1:12-13, II Peter 3, Matthew 24:35,Revelation 20:11, 21:1). Having filled the earth with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14, cf. Isaiah 11), to a magnificence He then goes, one not only of state and status as God, but of salvation as crucified, irruption as bodily arisen (Revelation 5:9-15), conferring on many the wonder of that haven, that holiness, that finale, even as many as received Him as He is, for what He came (John 1:1-14, 8:58). There is a grandeur at once glorious and humble, eternal and made manifest in time.
From this His grants are exceedingly liberal (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 3:14-21).