Public Miracles – Mark 6

Read the Passage: Mark 6

Feeding of Five-Thousand (6:32–44)

After reporting several miracles in the preceding chapter, the first half of Mark 6 records the rejection of Jesus at Nazareth (cf. Mark 6:1–6), the sending and return of the twelve apostles (cf. Mark 6:7–13, 30–31), and the death of John the Baptist (cf. Mark 6:14–29). While these events occurred near the apex of Jesus’ ministry, they also demonstrate the growing hostility of many towards Christ’s message. Continue reading Public Miracles – Mark 6

Three Healings – Mark 5

Read the Passage: Mark 5

Requests (5:1–34)

Mark 5 narrates three separate miracles of Jesus, which are the ninth, tenth, and eleventh miracles of Christ that Mark records. Note that each of these miracles is also found in Matthew and Luke. The first miracle reported is the healing of the Gadarene demoniac. This miracle is significant in that it is the first miracle in Mark’s Gospel done outside of Galilee, it is the first miracle done for a Gentile, it is the first miracle that provokes fear among the crowd, and it is the first miracle that Jesus’ commands should be made public. Observe that the casting out of demons into a heard of swine, who then abruptly kill themselves, is meant to communicate: (1) the uncleanness of that from which the man had been delivered (cf. Lev. 11:7; Deut. 14:8); (2) the immense number of demons whom had been cast out (cf. Mark 5:9); and (3) the fact that the end result of all sin is death (cf. Gen. 2:17; Rom. 6:23).

Mark’s account of the healing of Jairus’ daughter is noteworthy, for while each of the Synoptic Gospels narrates this miracle, Mark—the shortest of the Gospels—gives the longest and most detailed account of this event. Note that five of the nine previous miracles that Mark records involved healing. Therefore, Jairus’ request that Jesus heal his daughter is not unreasonable. However, given Jairus’ position as a ruler of the synagogue, as well as the other religious leaders’ general hostility toward Christ (cf. Mark 2:24; 3:6), Jairus’ faith is somewhat unexpected. Observe that Jesus’ earlier healing of a demon-possessed man (cf. Mark 1:21–28), which is the first miracle that Mark records, likely occurred in Jairus’ synagogue. As we’ll see in this narrative, Jairus’ daughter becomes the first person Jesus’ raises from the dead, and the fourth of nine individuals who are resurrected in the Bible.

Perhaps in order to highlight his emphasis upon faith in this chapter, Mark interrupts his narrative about Jairus’ daughter in order to give an account of the healing of a woman with an incurable flow of blood. Interestingly, both Matthew and Luke interrupt their accounts about Jairus’ daughter in order to narrate this same event. In comparing these two intertwined miracles we can draw several conclusions. First, it is clear that Jesus treats those with weak faith (cf. Mark 5:36) or strong faith (cf. Mark 5:28, 34) the same. Second, Christ ministers to leaders (cf. Mark 5:22) and to outcasts (cf. Mark 5:25) alike, showing equal kindness to both. Third, while physical healing and resurrection are great miracles, since both the woman and Jairus’ daughter eventually died, we can conclude that Jesus’ healing miracles are but a temporal earthy preview of an eternal heavenly glorification.

Ridicule (5:35–39)

At Mark 5:35, news reaches Jesus and Jairus that his daughter had passed away. Matthew indicates that this news was not unexpected, for Jairus—anticipating his daughter’s death—had earlier said to Jesus, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hands on her and she will live” (Matt. 9:18). In response to the news, Jesus encouraged Jairus, saying, “Do not be afraid; only believe” (Mark 5:36). Interestingly, at this point, Mark notes that Jesus “permitted no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John” (Mark 5:37). This is the first of four times that Mark references this special inner circle of disciples (cf. Mark 9:2; 13:3; 14:33). Next, with these three men in tow, Jesus came to Jairus’ house and saw “a tumult and those who wept and wailed loudly” (Mark 5:38). When the crowd saw Jesus and heard His declaration that Jairus’ daughter was sleeping (cf. Mark 5:39), they ridiculed him.

Response (5:40–43)

After being ridiculed by the crowd, which indicates scorn and laughter, Mark records that Jesus put the crowd outside of the house. Then, in the presence of only Peter, James, John, Jairus, and Jairus’ wife, Christ “took the child by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha, cumi,’ which is translated, ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise.’ Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age. And they were overcome with great amazement” (Mark 5:41–42). Interestingly, only Mark records the actual Aramaic words that Jesus spoke on this occasion, which is further evidence of Mark’s reliance upon Peter for information, for Peter was one of only six people present at the resurrection of Jairus’ daughter. Note that when Jesus raised the widow of Nain’s son (cf. Luke 7:14), as well as Lazarus (cf. John 11:43), He also spoke directly to the decedent, commanding each to arise from the dead.

Application Questions:

  1. After telling others not to spread news of His miracles (cf. Mark 1:34, 44; 3:12; 5:43), why does Christ command the healed man differently (cf. Mark 5:19–20)?
  2. What do you think prompted such faith within Jairus? Would he have listened to and sought out Jesus if his daughter had not fallen ill?
  3. Why, at Mark 5:41, did Jesus ask, “Who touched Me?” Was Christ unaware that the woman with the flow of blood had been healed by His power?
  4. Why did Jesus only permit Peter, James, and John, as well as her parents, to witness the great miracle of the of raising Jairus’ daughter?
  5. Why are most people scared, or even terrified, of death? Are you scared of death? What are some commonalities between biblical accounts of resurrection?

Healing of a Paralytic – Mark 2:1–12

Read the Passage: Mark 2:1-12

Faith of the Paralytic (2:1–5)

As this chapter begins we find Jesus in Capernaum, where He had taken up temporary residence, likely in Peter’s home (cf. Mark 1:29; Matt. 4:13). Although this was early in His ministry, Jesus had already performed many public miracles, four of which are recorded in Mark 1:21–45. Continue reading Healing of a Paralytic – Mark 2:1–12

Saul Consults a Medium – 1 Samuel 28

Read the Passage: 1 Samuel 28

Consultation of a Medium (28:3–11)

At 1 Sam. 25:1 it was reported, “Samuel died; and the Israelites gathered together and lamented for him, and buried him at his home in Ramah.” This event happened after the first occasion on which David spared Saul and before his taking of Abigail as wife. On account of more than 40 years of ministry, the lamentation for Samuel was great. Continue reading Saul Consults a Medium – 1 Samuel 28

Ministry in Ephesus – Acts 19

Read the Passage: Acts 19

Ministry (19:1–10)

Acts 18:23 records the beginning of Paul’s third missionary journey, which occurred between AD 53–57, and entailed Paul re-visiting many of the cities he’d visited on his first and second missions journeys. Paul began these travels in Galatia and Phrygia, likely visiting Lystra, Derbe, Iconium, and Antioch, among other cities. Eventually, Paul came to Ephesus, where he’d been earlier for roughly one week (cf. Acts 18:19–21), and where he’d left Aquila and Pricilla. Upon arriving here Paul met twelve men whom, like Apollos (cf. Acts 18:24–28) were disciples of John the Baptist, but whom had not yet heard that Jesus is the Messiah, nor had they received the Holy Spirit. Paul then shared the full gospel with these men, which resulted in them being baptized (cf. Acts 19:5), receiving the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, and prophesying (cf. Acts 8:17; 19:6).

After Paul’s interaction with John’s disciples, which is the only explicit example of re-baptism in the New Testament, Paul followed his usual ministry pattern of sharing the gospel with the Jews. As he had done on his previous brief visit to Ephesus (cf. Acts 18:19), Paul taught in the synagogue, spending three months reasoning and persuading the Jews (cf. Acts 19:8). As was the case on his first two mission journeys, so here in Ephesus, the gospel was rejected by many, which resulted in some speaking “evil of the Way” (Acts 19:9). Note that Christianity was referred to as “the Way” (cf. Acts 9:2; 19:23; 22:4; 24:14, 22) in light of Jesus’ claim at John 14:6. This persecution caused Paul and the believers to withdraw to the school of Tyrannus, where Paul taught for two years (cf. Acts 19:9–10). Tyrannus may have been a believing philosopher who owned a building or theater structure.

Miracles (19:11–20)

Acts 19:11–20 contains an account of the miracles of Paul in Ephesus. Just as God had used Peter’s shadow to facilitate healing of the sick (cf. Acts 5:15), and Jesus’ healed via the touching of His garment (cf. Matt. 9:21), so the Lord was pleased to work healing miracles through handkerchiefs or aprons that touched Paul (cf. Acts 19:11–12). Furthermore, just as Simon the sorcerer was attracted to Peter’s ministry, with sinful motives (cf. Acts 8:9–25), so the seven sons of Sceva were attracted to Paul’s ministry with false pretenses. Luke reports that when these Jewish exorcists began to work in Jesus’ name, it resulted in their being attacked by a demon. Yet, this attack resulted in the name of Jesus being magnified. Furthermore, many of the pagans brought their magic books—signs of their former way of life—to a book burning upon their conversion.

Uproar (19:21–41)

Acts 19:21–22 marks a turning point in Paul’s ministry, as here Paul purposes to return to Jerusalem and to visit Rome. This decision was not Paul’s alone, as he was “compelled by the Spirit” (Acts 19:21). The rest of the book of Acts, including the entirety of Paul’s fourth mission journey, details his visit to Jerusalem and then to Rome. However, before heading to Jerusalem, Paul desired to visit the churches in Macedonia, including the churches in Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, and Corinth. With this in mind, Paul sent Timothy and Erastus to Macedonia to prepare the churches for his visit, especially a planned benevolence offering for the Palestinian churches. Note that we know little else about Erastus, although he is likely the same Erastus mention at 2 Tim. 4:20, who was in Corinth, but probably not the man named Erastus, the city treasurer, mentioned at Rom. 16:23.

In Acts 19:23–41 we read that, as could be expected, after three years of Paul’s gospel ministry (cf. Acts 19:31), a riot broke out in Ephesus. This uproar was led by a certain silversmith named Demetrius, who was less concerned about theological matters than he was about the sales of his silver idols. Evidently, Paul’s ministry in Ephesus was so successful that the pagans were feeling an economic crunch, as people—including Macedonian tourists—were visiting the temple of Diana with less frequency. Of course, this would have resulted in the sale of fewer silver trinkets. Demetrius, who likely headed the local silversmith guild, sparked the riot by claiming Paul’s ministry would result in the destruction of the temple of Diana. This riot was diffused by the city clerk; however, it resulted in Paul’s departure from Ephesus (cf. Acts 20:1).

Application Questions:

  1. Why did Paul remain in Ephesus more than twice as long as he spent ministering in any of the other cities he visited? How can we discern ministry longevity?
  2. Do you think the disciples of John, whom Paul met in Ephesus, were believers before being instructed by Paul? What was “John’s baptism” (cf. Mark 1:1–8)?
  3. Why do you think Paul was able to teach in the school of Tyrannus for two years, without persecution? How did Paul’s ministerial methods change over time?
  4. Why did God facilitate such unusual miracles, at this time, in the ministry of Paul? Why does God not utilize many supernatural sign miracles today?
  5. Given that Paul was imprisoned upon his return to Jerusalem, how can we accept that he was “compelled by the Spirit” (Acts 19:21) to go there?

Perils of Ministry – Acts 14

Read the Passage: Acts 14

Opposition (14:1–7)

Acts 13 records the beginnings of Paul’s first missionary journey, which occurred in 48 AD. This journey took Paul and Barnabas first to Crete and then to Pisidian Antioch. While Paul had ministerial success in these locations, Acts 13:42–52 records the first significant conflict Paul faced during his missionary work, as certain Jews grew envious of Paul’s success and opposed his message. Continue reading Perils of Ministry – Acts 14

Gospel Progress – Acts 5:12–42

Read the Passage: Acts 5:12-42

Ministry and Arrest (5:12–21)

Acts 5:12–16 records that God was pleased to facilitate many signs and wonders among the people during the early days of the church. One of these signs, albeit an unfortunate one, was the death of Ananias and Sapphira. This occurred at the word of Peter, as was recorded in Acts 5:1–11. In Acts 5:13–14 we are told that the effect of these signs and wonders was twofold: many unbelievers esteemed the apostles, while many new believers joined the church. Continue reading Gospel Progress – Acts 5:12–42

Peter’s Ministry – Acts 3

Read the Passage: Acts 3

Healing the Lame (3:1–10)

Acts 3 records the first specific ministry events of the newly formed church. As a testimony to the Jewish nature of the early church, this passage begins with the information that “Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour” (Acts 3:1). The Jews designated several times throughout each day to pray (cf. Ps. 55:17). Continue reading Peter’s Ministry – Acts 3

Belshazzar’s Pride – Daniel 5

Read the Passage: Daniel 5

God’s Revelation (5:1–12)

Since the book of Daniel is only twelve chapters long, yet covers 70–80 years of time, the chronology between chapters can be unusual. There are four kings who appear by name in Daniel: Nebuchadnezzar (chs. 1–4), Belshazzar (ch. 5), Darius (chs. 6–9), and Cyrus (chs. 10–12). The events in today’s passage involve Nebuchadnezzar’s son (or, perhaps, his grandson) and successor Belshazzar. Continue reading Belshazzar’s Pride – Daniel 5

The Triumphal Entry – Matthew 21:1–22

Read the Passage: Matthew 21:1-22

Arrival of Jesus (21:1–11)

The triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem is one a few narratives that is recorded in all four Gospels. At Matt. 20:29 Jesus left Jericho and began making His way toward Jerusalem. The distance from Jericho to Jerusalem was ~20 miles and the elevation rose ~4,000 feet. Christ stopped in the village of Bethphage, which is only mentioned here in Scripture. It was the time of the Passover, thus Jerusalem would have been full of people. Continue reading The Triumphal Entry – Matthew 21:1–22