In the last chapter we reviewed the activity of Jesus beginning from the second Passover in His ministry to the third. This would be the second year of His public ministry. We noted that during this time He spent most of His time in the northern part of the country near His hometown and the area where most of His disciples lived.
During this period He became more bold in declaring His identity and we saw His following increase greatly – to the point where He could no longer move about freely. It was during this second year that He officially appointed the twelve as His Apostles.
In this chapter we will continue with the events that finish out that second year of ministry in the area of Galilee.
47. Sermon on the Mount
The Sermon on the Mount is probably the most compact teaching covering the Christian experience found in the New Testament. It is also recorded by Luke in a different variation which suggests that this was the heart of Jesus' preaching and He may have repeated this on a number of occasions. (If you have a good sermon, why not preach it more than once?)
The "Beatitudes" as some call them, describe the attitude and spirit of one who had been freed from the Law and was now motivated by grace, enabled by the Holy Spirit and guided by the Word of Christ. How else could the meek be happy; how else could one see God; inherit the earth; rejoice at persecution; etc.
What Jesus describes in this sermon is the life of one who lives in the kingdom, which had not yet come but was about to be established with His death and resurrection. The Sermon on the Mount is a preview of the church and its life.
48. Healing of the Centurion's servant
This miracle took place in Capernaum, Jesus' adult hometown. What was interesting in His dialogue with this man was that Jesus has just preached a sermon about the kingdom and life in the kingdom to the Jews (who assumed that it was all for them because they were Jews). In healing this non-Jew's servant, Jesus reminds His hearers that entry into the kingdom is based on faith, not culture or tradition. The Centurion believed Jesus and the Jews were amazed at his faith, which Jesus had not yet seen among the Jews.
This is what made the people angry with Him. The leaders were upset with Him because He threatened their authority; the people were upset because He offered the kingdom to both Jews and Gentiles based on faith – no special treatment for the Jews except receiving the first invitation.
49. Raising the widow's son
This is one of the three times Jesus performs the miracle of raising someone from the dead (Jairus' daughter and Lazarus).
Aside from being a mighty sign in itself, it was also a proof that He was the Messiah since the Scriptures said the Messiah would be able to do this. It was also a preview of His own resurrection. One who had the power to raise others from the grave (not once, but 3 times) could also be raised from the dead Himself.
50. Jesus rebukes the unbelieving cities
Even though there was interest and crowds, even though He performs many miracles and teaches for a long period of time – the main cities in the area (Capernaum, Bethsaida, Chorazin) all fail to accept Him or recognize Him as Messiah.
Jesus does two things in response to their rejection:
- He rebukes them and warns them of their eventual judgment and destruction.
- He invites those who are burdened and weakened to come to Him.
The point is that these cities felt themselves to be too wise and superior to believe in Him, so He rejects them and invites the lowly to come.
51. Woman anoints Jesus' feet
Jesus is eating with Simon the Pharisee. While eating, a woman comes and anoints his feet with her tears and perfume and kisses them and dries them with her hair.
It is ironic that Simon personifies all the cities that Jesus rebuked earlier with his self-righteous attitude towards the woman (he rejects her because she is a sinner), and his unbelieving attitude towards Jesus (did not honor Him in any way by washing His feet or anointing Him with oil).
The woman, on the other hand, represents all those weary and heavy laden people Jesus called to Himself. She brought her sorrow and tears and guilt and laid them at Jesus' feet and left unburdened and forgiven.
There is another time when Jesus has His feet washed, but it will be by Mary (the sister of Martha) and near the end of Jesus' ministry.
52. More circuit preaching in Galilee
Jesus continues His preaching ministry with the Apostles. This time Luke mentions how His ministry was financed: many of the wealthy women from the king's court helped support Jesus and the Apostles in their ministry.
53. Jesus heals a demoniac
The significant thing about the healing of this demon-possessed man was that it marked a new line of attack taken against Him by the Pharisees. Obviously the Pharisees, some all the way from Jerusalem, were beginning to target Him more ferociously than before. In the past they tried to discredit His teaching or His authority, now they make an attack against His character saying that He is of the devil (Beelzebub).
Of course Jesus answers that if this is so, then Satan is destroying Himself because He has just cast the devil out of a man, not put him in.
54. The crowd seeks a sign
The Pharisees and Scribes respond by saying that they want a miracle and sign in order to prove Jesus' divinity. He tells them that aside from the ones already done, the one true sign that will settle the matter will be His death and resurrection. The sign of Jonah is a cryptic way of saying this. The prophets said (David, Acts 2:25-30) that the Messiah would have power over death.
Even Paul in Romans 1:4 says that the resurrection is the definitive proof that Jesus was the Son of God, the Messiah.
55. Jesus' family come for Him
All these accusations, all this confusion, leads His family to come and try to bring Him home thinking He's lost it. Their concern may have been sincere and normal, but it also showed disbelief and Jesus points this out when He claims that those who believe are His true brothers and sisters.
It's the same with us – our true family is our Christian family. If we prefer non-believers (even if they are family) to believers, then we love this world more than the kingdom.
56. Seven parables from a boat
Again, He is in the Galilee region at Capernaum, his home, and He enters a boat to teach the crowd on shore. The writers record a series of 7 parables strung together as a lesson
- The sower and the seed
- Wheat and tares
- Mustard seed
- Treasure in a field
- Pearl of great price
57. Jesus calms the storm
58. Jesus cures two demoniacs
59. Jesus raises Jairus' daughter and cures the woman with hemorrhage
60. Jesus heals the blind and another demoniac
After the long teaching section, the writers describe a series of amazing miracles as Jesus leaves one shore of the lake and crosses over to the other.
On His first pass He miraculously calms a fierce storm. On His arrival He cures a demoniac and sends him off to his native country where Jesus will later go and have great success in preaching. He crosses the lake again and this time raises a young girl from the dead and heals a woman who suffered from an incurable hemorrhage. Finally He cures a blind man and one who was unable to speak.
The net result was that He had performed miracles the like of which had never been done by anyone before. He demonstrated that He had power over the creation, over death, over every kind of disease – exactly the kind of power that no ordinary faith healer could and did have. But only the kind of power God Himself could have.
61. Jesus rejected in Nazareth
Despite all of these signs and wonders, despite all the teaching, His native city still refuses to believe in Him. Despite all of this He visits and tries to reach them.
They don't try to stone Him, but simply refuse to accept Him and for this reason He does no miracles among them.
62. Final preaching tour through Galilee
Jesus makes one final tour through His native region before going further north and then down to Jerusalem for the feast. He continues to preach, teach and heal where they receive Him (not in His hometown).
63. Jesus sends out the twelve
After several tours with Him, Jesus now sends the twelve out by themselves to begin their public ministry in their own towns and villages.
The writers provide the instructions for ministry that Jesus provided them with and also describe the power He gave them to do their work. They go off with the power to do miracles in His name, power given to confirm their message about the kingdom.
64. Herod takes note of Jesus
All the writers describe the excitement when the Apostles return from their first preaching tour.
He takes them to a quiet place for them to rest after their work. Probably to teach them some more and respond to various questions and problems they may have had. Their success however cuts this short as the crowds find them for more ministry. Jesus responds by teaching them and when the hour is late He performs a great miracle in feeding them (5000) from just a few loaves of bread and fish.
Jesus will perform this miracle again later for 4000 people at another site.
This miracle is a sign of several things:
- Jesus' power over the physical universe and laws.
- A preview of the great spiritual banquet He is preparing in the kingdom.
- An encouragement to rely on Jesus to provide for not only spiritual, but our physical needs as well.
65. The twelve return
66. Jesus sends the twelve across the lake
After this "debriefing" and the miracle, Jesus will send them once again across the lake in order to continue their work. It is at this occasion that Jesus came to them while walking upon the water and Peter requested that he too come to Him.
Note that they had themselves performed miracles and so Peter was primed to push the edge of this newly given power by asking to do yet another miraculous thing.
He learned that all is possible, but only through faith, and he learned that his faith still had boundaries.
67. The crowds seek for a sign
The people have witnessed many miracles and now find Jesus with the Apostles on the other side of the lake and demand another sign.
They had been fed miraculously the day before and they want more. They would follow a Messiah who provided for not only their spiritual needs, but also their physical needs as well – without any effort by them.
This is the passage where Jesus uses the imagery of bread to describe Himself as the bread from heaven. He also alludes to the communion which He will institute in the future (drink my blood and eat my flesh). The first time He makes the astonishing promise that if someone believes in Him, He will resurrect that person from the dead. This dialogue occurred in the synagogue at Capernaum and because of His teachings (about Him being the bread/manna from heaven; about eating His flesh, etc/ about resurrection) many of the disciples abandoned Him at this point.
It was a critical moment for the Apostles because they had seen and heard so much, now Jesus was speaking of things that they could not comprehend. He challenged their faith and Peter responded (for all the Apostles) that they had no place to go but to Him – despite their lack of understanding – they believed.
That is often the case in our lives as well, things happen, we are faced with issues we don't understand – our test is, "do we continue to believe and obey, even though we might not understand why?" – that is what we call walking by faith. Despite the miracles they saw, the teachings they received, even the Apostles had to do a stretch by faith and not by sight.
READING ASSIGNMENT FOR CHAPTER 7
- Matthew 14:34-36; Mark 6:55-56
- Matthew 15:1-20; Mark 7:1-23
- Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30
- Matthew 15:29-38; Mark 7:31-8:9
- Matthew 15:39-16:4; Mark 8:10-12
- Matthew 16:5-12; Mark 8:13-21
- Mark 8:22-26
- Matthew 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21
- Matthew 16:21-28; Mark 8:31-9:1; Luke 9:22-27
- Matthew 17:1-13; Mark 9:2-13; Luke 9:28-36
- Matthew 17:14-21; Mark 9:14-29; Luke 9:37-43
- Matthew 17:22-23; Mark 9:30-32; Luke 9:44-45
- Matthew 17:24-27
- Matthew 18:1-35; Mark 9:33-50; Luke 9:46-50