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Week 6: Matthew 14:1–15:31; Mark 6–7; Luke 9:1-17; John 6

Sunday (Mark 6:1-13; Luke 9:1-6)

Mark

Rejection at Nazareth

6:1 Now Jesus left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 6:2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue. Many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did he get these ideas? And what is this wisdom that has been given to him? What are these miracles that are done through his hands? 6:3 Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And aren’t his sisters here with us?” And so they took offense at him. 6:4 Then Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown, and among his relatives, and in his own house.” 6:5 He was not able to do a miracle there, except to lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6:6 And he was amazed because of their unbelief. Then he went around among the villages and taught.

Sending Out the Twelve Apostles

6:7 Jesus called the twelve and began to send them out two by two. He gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 6:8 He instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no bag, no money in their belts – 6:9 and to put on sandals but not to wear two tunics. 6:10 He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the area. 6:11 If a place will not welcome you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 6:12 So they went out and preached that all should repent. 6:13 They cast out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

Luke

The Sending of the Twelve Apostles

9:1 After Jesus called the twelve together, he gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, 9:2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 9:3 He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey – no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, and do not take an extra tunic. 9:4 Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave the area. 9:5 Wherever they do not receive you, as you leave that town, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 9:6 Then they departed and went throughout the villages, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.

Prayer

Lord, I know that when You send us out to minister You send us equipped. May I never doubt that You have given me all that I need to serve You wherever You may send me.

Scripture In Perspective

Mark recounts the story of the people in Nazareth doubting that one of them could be a prophet of God — “Isn’t this the carpenter?” (6:3). Although Jesus does miracles and speaks with great wisdom, because He had physically grown up among them and they in their earth-bound sense of reality can not conceive of Him as anyone different than they, they refuse to believe in spite of the evidence.

Luke echoes Mark’s account of the instructions Jesus gives to His apostles, while emphasizing the authority given them by Him to cast out demons, heal the sick, and proclaim the Kingdom. The twelve apostles go forth and do just as Jesus commanded them, “proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere” (9:6).

It is worthy of note that the pre-Pentecost sending of the twelve was prior to the Holy Spirit being sent to indwell Believers. The apostles were empowered to be extensions of the ministry of Jesus by the Holy Spirit external to them, or internal at specific times for specific purposes — as in “It is not you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matt. 10:20).

Faith In Action

Consider

As Jesus instructed us, we are to obediently go out in His name to cast out “demons” — literally through the power of prayer or metaphorically through the application of God’s Truth in our lives and the lives of those around us.

Do we partner with God in healing the physically sick through prayer and the heart-sick through the power of the shared Word ― bringing balance, comfort, peace, and wisdom into a confused world?

Reflect

How different are we from those in the New Testament? Do we not also try to do things in our own strength, knowingly disobeying what Jesus taught us to do and be? When we do this are we not doubting that Jesus is sufficient, as He said He is? Does that not represent a form of rejection of Jesus?

Reflect on a time in your life when you discovered that the indwelling Holy Spirit led you to share the Kingdom of God with words or, more powerfully, with a life which witnessed to the transforming power of God in you. Share how that brought you a special sense of joy and had a positive impact on others.

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you intentionally not listening to Him, or unintentionally not hearing from Him, because you don’t like what He is saying.

Act

Today I will consider how I might sometimes “reject” Jesus when He doesn’t say or do what I’d like Him to – so I go my own way. I will repent of this.

Today I will prayerfully seek opportunity to cast out a demon, heal the sick, or proclaim the Kingdom. I will share what results with a Christian friend.

Be Specific ____________________________________________

Monday (Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29; Luke 9:7-9)

Matthew

The Death of John the Baptist

14:1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard reports about Jesus, 14:2 and he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead! And because of this, miraculous powers are at work in him.” 14:3 For Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 14:4 because John had repeatedly told him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 14:5 Although Herod wanted to kill John, he feared the crowd because they accepted John as a prophet. 14:6 But on Herod’s birthday, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod, 14:7 so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. 14:8 Instructed by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” 14:9 Although it grieved the king, because of his oath and the dinner guests he commanded it to be given. 14:10 So he sent and had John beheaded in the prison. 14:11 His head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. 14:12 Then John’s disciples came and took the body and buried it and went and told Jesus.

Mark

The Death of John the Baptist

6:14 Now King Herod heard this, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead, and because of this, miraculous powers are at work in him.” 6:15 Others said, “He is Elijah.” Others said, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets from the past.” 6:16 But when Herod heard this, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised!” 6:17 For Herod himself had sent men, arrested John, and bound him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. 6:18 For John had repeatedly told Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 6:19 So Herodias nursed a grudge against him and wanted to kill him. But she could not 6:20 because Herod stood in awe of John and protected him, since he knew that John was a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard him, he was thoroughly baffled, and yet he liked to listen to John.

6:21 But a suitable day came, when Herod gave a banquet on his birthday for his court officials, military commanders, and leaders of Galilee. 6:22 When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you want and I will give it to you.” 6:23 He swore to her, “Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom.” 6:24 So she went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” Her mother said, “The head of John the baptizer.” 6:25 Immediately she hurried back to the king and made her request: “I want the head of John the Baptist on a platter immediately.” 6:26 Although it grieved the king deeply, he did not want to reject her request because of his oath and his guests. 6:27 So the king sent an executioner at once to bring John’s head, and he went and beheaded John in prison. 6:28 He brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. 6:29 When John’s disciples heard this, they came and took his body and placed it in a tomb.

Luke

Herod’s Confusion about Jesus

9:7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard about everything that was happening, and he was thoroughly perplexed, because some people were saying that John had been raised from the dead, 9:8 while others were saying that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had risen. 9:9 Herod said, “I had John beheaded, but who is this about whom I hear such things?” So Herod wanted to learn about Jesus.

Prayer

Lord, the world attacks anyone who dares to compare them against Your standard of righteousness. Strengthen me so that I may confidently, and without fear, share Your Truth in love.

Scripture In Perspective

Herod abandons his wife and Herodias abandons her husband, the brother of Herod, so the two of them can then marry each other. Although John had repeatedly reminded Herod that, based on Old Testament teaching, “It is not lawful for you to have her” (Matt. 14:4).

In response, Herod, who fears John as a prophet of God, tries to avoid dealing with him by jailing him (to coerce acquiescence or silence). Herod’s daughter, because she pleased him with her dancing, is told “Whatever you ask I will give you” (Mark 6:23). Herod’s wife, who hates John and wants him dead, advises her daughter to ask for “the head of John the baptizer” (vs. 24) as a gift to her mother.

Jesus is not surprised by the news of John’s death, but He is surely saddened by this stark evidence of sinful rebellion and by the loss of His cousin and partner in ministry.

Herod, fearing that Jesus might be the resurrected John, is “thoroughly perplexed” (Luke 9:7) by others who are also saying that Jesus might be a reappearance of Elijah or another prophet of long ago. “So Herod wanted to learn about Jesus” (vs. 9) indicates that “Herod, for curiosity’s sake or more likely for evil purposes, wanted to get to know Jesus, i.e., who he was and what he was doing” (NET tn).

Faith In Action

Consider

How often do we observe people living in fear due to misunderstanding or superstition, or when they know that their conduct has been less than God-honoring?

Do we try to be alone prayerfully before God to reflect on major losses in life and to assess major undertakings as did Jesus?

Reflect

How often do we observe, in ourselves and others, that a reaction to sin brought to light is sometimes the avoidance of or an attack on the one who confronts the sin?

Was there a situation in your life where you lived in fear due to misunderstanding and were then set free by Jesus, the omniscient God?

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where and when you respond with avoidance or resentment to His efforts to confront you with sin.

Act

I will surrender to the Holy Spirit’s restorative power and remove the resentment and avoidance which darkens my relationship with God. I will pray today for someone who appears to be harmed by superstition or misunderstanding and make myself available to God should He choose to use me to act as His agent of healing and discipleship.

Be Specific ____________________________________________

Tuesday (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15)

Matthew

The Feeding of the Five Thousand

14:13 Now when Jesus heard this he went away from there privately in a boat to an isolated place. But when the crowd heard about it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14:14 As he got out he saw the large crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 14:15 When evening arrived, his disciples came to him saying, “This is an isolated place and the hour is already late. Send the crowds away so that they can go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 14:16 But he replied, “They don’t need to go. You give them something to eat.” 14:17 They said to him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” 14:18 “Bring them here to me,” he replied. 14:19 Then he instructed the crowds to sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves and two fish, and looking up to heaven he gave thanks and broke the loaves. He gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. 14:20 They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the broken pieces left over, twelve baskets full. 14:21 Not counting women and children, there were about five thousand men who ate.

Mark

The Feeding of the Five Thousand

6:30 Then the apostles gathered around Jesus and told him everything they had done and taught. 6:31 He said to them, “Come with me privately to an isolated place and rest a while” (for many were coming and going, and there was no time to eat). 6:32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to some remote place.

6:33 But many saw them leaving and recognized them, and they hurried on foot from all the towns and arrived there ahead of them. 6:34 As Jesus came ashore he saw the large crowd and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he taught them many things.

6:35 When it was already late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is an isolated place and it is already very late. 6:36 Send them away so that they can go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” 6:37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said, “Should we go and buy bread for two hundred silver coins and give it to them to eat?” 6:38 He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five – and two fish.” 6:39 Then he directed them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. 6:40 So they reclined in groups of hundreds and fifties. 6:41 He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. He gave them to his disciples to serve the people, and he divided the two fish among them all. 6:42 They all ate and were satisfied, 6:43 and they picked up the broken pieces and fish that were left over, twelve baskets full. 6:44 Now there were five thousand men who ate the bread.

Luke

The Feeding of the Five Thousand

9:10 When the apostles returned, they told Jesus everything they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew privately to a town called Bethsaida. 9:11 But when the crowds found out, they followed him. He welcomed them, spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and cured those who needed healing. 9:12 Now the day began to draw to a close, so the twelve came and said to Jesus, “Send the crowd away, so they can go into the surrounding villages and countryside and find lodging and food, because we are in an isolated place.” 9:13 But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They replied, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish – unless we go and buy food for all these people.” 9:14 (Now about five thousand men were there.) Then he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 9:15 So they did as Jesus directed, and the people all sat down.

9:16 Then he took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven he gave thanks and broke them. He gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 9:17 They all ate and were satisfied, and what was left over was picked up – twelve baskets of broken pieces.

John

The Feeding of the Five Thousand

6:1 After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (also called the Sea of Tiberias). 6:2 A large crowd was following him because they were observing the miraculous signs he was performing on the sick. 6:3 So Jesus went on up the mountainside and sat down there with his disciples. 6:4 (Now the Jewish feast of the Passover was near.) 6:5 Then Jesus, when he looked up and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, said to Philip, “Where can we buy bread so that these people may eat?” 6:6 (Now Jesus said this to test him, for he knew what he was going to do.) 6:7 Philip replied, “Two hundred silver coins worth of bread would not be enough for them, for each one to get a little.” 6:8 One of Jesus’ disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 6:9 “Here is a boy who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what good are these for so many people?”

6:10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” (Now there was a lot of grass in that place.) So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. 6:11 Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed the bread to those who were seated. He then did the same with the fish, as much as they wanted. 6:12 When they were all satisfied, Jesus said to his disciples, “Gather up the broken pieces that are left over, so that nothing is wasted.” 6:13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with broken pieces from the five barley loaves left over by the people who had eaten.

6:14 Now when the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus performed, they began to say to one another, “This is certainly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 6:15 Then Jesus, because he knew they were going to come and seize him by force to make him king, withdrew again up the mountainside alone.

Prayer

Lord, You declare that You own the cattle on a thousand hills, so surely I need never worry that I will ever lack anything I have need of, for You are gracious and loving in Your giving.

Scripture In Perspective

Jesus’ reaction to news of the death of John is to tell His disciples, “Come with me privately to an isolated place and rest a while” (Mark. 6:31), but the crowds follow Him. The Luke text implies their withdrawal is in part due to the fact that “the apostles returned” (9:10) from their evangelical-missionary work and He desires to debrief them. In either case, Jesus presses forward with His apostles at His side.

They go away by themselves in a boat. When they return to shore they are greeted by over five thousand people, who are “like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34), so Jesus teaches them. At dinnertime, with no food on hand, He performs a miracle and multiplies the few pieces of fish and bread gathered into the thousands needed to feed the multitude.

John adds the clarification that Jesus knows He will perform a miracle to feed the masses, “for He knew what He was going to do” (6:6). Jesus challenges Philip, in order to create a teachable moment — Jesus’ “where can we buy bread?” (6:5) is rhetorical.

The Galileans, after the miraculous feeding of the masses, want to press Jesus into the role of leader of the country’s drive for independence — “He knew they were going to come and seize Him by force to make Him king” (John 6:15). Because being an earthly king is not His purpose and such an act would cause a violent reaction from the authorities, Jesus quickly withdraws to the mountainside alone.

Faith In Action

Consider

When God presents us with opportunities to teach those “without a shepherd,” do we seize the moment and turn away from what is of lesser importance which may be postponed?

When confronted with the need for a miracle, do we react with powerlessness or do we look to God to provide?

Reflect

When people try to pressure us into roles we do not believe God has called us to play, do we set boundaries and separate ourselves from them, or do we linger and find ourselves improperly manipulated?

Were you ever really busy and an opportunity presented itself to share Christ or to encourage a troubled Believer? What resulted when you either turned away from your busyness (allowing the Holy Spirit to work through you) or when you allowed your busyness to control?

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to give you opportunity to teach the things of God to someone whom He presents to you as needy and teachable.

Act

Today I will discern a place where others try to pressure me into a role not approved by God, set a boundary to protect myself from undue influence, and withdraw as needed.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Wednesday (Matthew 14:22-36; Mark 6:45-52; John 6:16-24)

Matthew

Walking on Water

14:22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, while he dispersed the crowds. 14:23 And after he sent the crowds away, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone. 14:24 Meanwhile the boat, already far from land, was taking a beating from the waves because the wind was against it. 14:25 As the night was ending, Jesus came to them walking on the sea. 14:26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water they were terrified and said, “It’s a ghost!” and cried out with fear. 14:27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them: “Have courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.” 14:28 Peter said to him, “Lord, if it is you, order me to come to you on the water.” 14:29 So he said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. 14:30 But when he saw the strong wind he became afraid. And starting to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 14:31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 14:32 When they went up into the boat, the wind ceased. 14:33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

14:34 After they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. 14:35 When the people there recognized him, they sent word into all the surrounding area, and they brought all their sick to him. 14:36 They begged him if they could only touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

Mark

Walking on Water

6:45 Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dispersed the crowd. 6:46 After saying good-bye to them, he went to the mountain to pray. 6:47 When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea and he was alone on the land. 6:48 He saw them straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. As the night was ending, he came to them walking on the sea, for he wanted to pass by them. 6:49 When they saw him walking on the water they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, 6:50 for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them: “Have courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.” 6:51 Then he went up with them into the boat, and the wind ceased. They were completely astonished, 6:52 because they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

John

Walking on Water

6:16 Now when evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 6:17 got into a boat, and started to cross the lake to Capernaum. (It had already become dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.) 6:18 By now a strong wind was blowing and the sea was getting rough. 6:19 Then, when they had rowed about three or four miles, they caught sight of Jesus walking on the lake, approaching the boat, and they were frightened. 6:20 But he said to them, “It is I. Do not be afraid.” 6:21 Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat came to the land where they had been heading.

6:22 The next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the lake realized that only one small boat had been there, and that Jesus had not boarded it with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 6:23 But some boats from Tiberias came to shore near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 6:24 So when the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus.

Prayer

Lord, help me to keep my eyes focused on You, so that I may never fear drowning in the floodwaters of this world.

Scripture In Perspective

Mark reports on the miracle of Jesus walking on the water. Jesus wants to “pass by” (6:48) and come alongside of His disciples during their struggle with the boat in the wind in order to assure them of His presence with them. And yet, because they had not gained any insight from the miracle of the loaves and fishes, they respond with fear and are shocked by His walking on the water and calming the storm. Lack of insight causes their blindness in seeing Who He is, because “their hearts were hardened,” (vs. 52) and their minds closed.

Matthew relates the story of Peter walking out across the water to meet Jesus when he sees Him walking on the water. This offers us a teachable moment: All disciples of the faith should seek to do the many righteous and loving things Jesus has done. Note the initial faith of Peter; Jesus’ approval as he walks on the water toward Him; Peter’s doubt once facing the storm, his taking his eyes off of Jesus, and the consequence thereof; Peter’s rescue by Jesus and His challenge for Peter’s lack of faith; and the overt worship of Jesus by those in the boat who declare, “Truly you are the Son of God” (14:33).

John’s report of Jesus walking on the water emphasizes that the weather is rough and that “they had rowed about three or four miles” (6:19) out in the lake. In so doing, he makes it clear that Jesus is not walking in sandal-level shallow water or anywhere near rocks — therefore, this is a true miracle. The next day, realizing that “only one small boat had been there, and that Jesus had not boarded it with His disciples” (John 6:22), the crowd goes looking for Him and finds Him with his disciples on the other side of the lake. [Note: When Jesus was not where they expected to find Him they didn’t wait for Him to appear but they acted and set out to find Him. Present-day disciples of Jesus also need to go looking for Him in the midst of challenging frightening circumstances.]

Faith In Action

Consider

Although we may greet Jesus with hearts of faith, does our faith fade when the world attacks us, as Jesus warned us it would?

When Jesus does a miracle in our life or in that of others, do we stop right then and there to worship Him?

Reflect

When Jesus comes alongside us to get our attention, do we sometimes respond to Him with hearts hardened by lack of knowledge of His Word or with minds filled with notions that distort His message?

Has God revealed Himself to you in an unmistakable way? Perhaps someone telling you something that you had just been praying over and studying your Bible to clarify? Or telling you that they were praying for something you had not yet disclosed as a need? Or your being led to read in the Bible that which was just the Word you needed to read?

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of a way in which Jesus has recently revealed Himself to you and met your need.

Act

Today I will watch for a moment when Jesus shows Himself to me in some way and then pause to worship Him. When the world attacks I will respond with faithful confidence.

Be Specific ____________________________________________

Thursday (Matthew 15; Mark 6:53-56; 7:1-23)

Matthew

Breaking Human Traditions

15:1 Then Pharisees and experts in the law came from Jerusalem to Jesus and said, 15:2 “Why do your disciples disobey the tradition of the elders? For they don’t wash their hands when they eat.” 15:3 He answered them, “And why do you disobey the commandment of God because of your tradition? 15:4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Whoever insults his father or mother must be put to death.’ 15:5 But you say, ‘If someone tells his father or mother, “Whatever help you would have received from me is given to God,” 15:6 he does not need to honor his father.’ You have nullified the word of God on account of your tradition. 15:7 Hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied correctly about you when he said,

15:8 ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me,

15:9 and they worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

True Defilement

15:10 Then he called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 15:11 What defiles a person is not what goes into the mouth; it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles a person.” 15:12 Then the disciples came to him and said, “Do you know that when the Pharisees heard this saying they were offended?” 15:13 And he replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father did not plant will be uprooted. 15:14 Leave them! They are blind guides. If someone who is blind leads another who is blind, both will fall into a pit.” 15:15 But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.” 15:16 Jesus said, “Even after all this, are you still so foolish? 15:17 Don’t you understand that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach and then passes out into the sewer? 15:18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a person. 15:19 For out of the heart come evil ideas, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 15:20 These are the things that defile a person; it is not eating with unwashed hands that defiles a person.”

A Canaanite Woman’s Faith

15:21 After going out from there, Jesus went to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 15:22 A Canaanite woman from that area came and cried out, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is horribly demon-possessed!” 15:23 But he did not answer her a word. Then his disciples came and begged him, “Send her away, because she keeps on crying out after us.” 15:24 So he answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 15:25 But she came and bowed down before him and said, “Lord, help me!” 15:26 “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs,” he said. 15:27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 15:28 Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, your faith is great! Let what you want be done for you.” And her daughter was healed from that hour.

Healing Many Others

15:29 When he left there, Jesus went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up a mountain, where he sat down. 15:30 Then large crowds came to him bringing with them the lame, blind, crippled, mute, and many others. They laid them at his feet, and he healed them. 15:31 As a result, the crowd was amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing, and they praised the God of Israel.

Mark

Healing the Sick

6:53 After they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and anchored there. 6:54 As they got out of the boat, people immediately recognized Jesus. 6:55 They ran through that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever he was rumored to be. 6:56 And wherever he would go – into villages, towns, or countryside – they would place the sick in the marketplaces, and would ask him if they could just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

Breaking Human Traditions

7:1 Now the Pharisees and some of the experts in the law who came from Jerusalem gathered around him. 7:2 And they saw that some of Jesus’ disciples ate their bread with unclean hands, that is, unwashed. 7:3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they perform a ritual washing, holding fast to the tradition of the elders. 7:4 And when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. They hold fast to many other traditions: the washing of cups, pots, kettles, and dining couches.) 7:5 The Pharisees and the experts in the law asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with unwashed hands?” 7:6 He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written:

‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.

7:7 They worship me in vain, teaching as doctrine the commandments of men.’

7:8 Having no regard for the command of God, you hold fast to human tradition.” 7:9 He also said to them, “You neatly reject the commandment of God in order to set up your tradition. 7:10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever insults his father or mother must be put to death.’ 7:11 But you say that if anyone tells his father or mother, ‘Whatever help you would have received from me is corban’ (that is, a gift for God), 7:12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother. 7:13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like this.”

7:14 Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand. 7:15 There is nothing outside of a person that can defile him by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles him.”

7:16 [[EMPTY]]

7:17 Now when Jesus had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. 7:18 He said to them, “Are you so foolish? Don’t you understand that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him? 7:19 For it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and then goes out into the sewer.” (This means all foods are clean.) 7:20 He said, “What comes out of a person defiles him. 7:21 For from within, out of the human heart, come evil ideas, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 7:22 adultery, greed, evil, deceit, debauchery, envy, slander, pride, and folly. 7:23 All these evils come from within and defile a person.”

Prayer

Lord, help me to look to You for Truth and not to the philosophies or traditions of man.

Scripture In Perspective

Mark observes that once Jesus is back on shore the people ask Him “if they could just touch the edge of His cloak” (6:56), evidence of their belief that nothing more is necessary for them to be healed. Jesus honors that faith and heals them.

Jesus is challenged by the religious authorities for His and the apostles’ failure to observe the man-made religious rites of ritual cleansing. Jesus responds by telling them that their human laws are really excuses to nullify “the word of God on account of your tradition” (Matt. 15:6).

Jesus challenges that the human laws about ritually clean or unclean food and drink are, in the spiritual sense, meaningless — only “What comes out of a person defiles him” (Mark 7:20), for “out of the human heart come evil ideas” (vs. 21).

Faith In Action

Consider

Do we discern the many ways that political, religious, and social rituals may distract us from seeing signs of the presence of God?

Reflect

Do we anticipate the blessings of Jesus to come to us after we metaphorically touch the edge of His cloak — evidenced by our willingness to learn His Word, sacrifice the worldly for the righteous, trust Him to provide all our needs?             

Have you experienced yourself becoming overly concerned about man-made rituals and traditions, thereby missing the intent of God?

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of a miracle God has done recently in your life and thank Him again for that evidence of His love.

Act

Today if there is need for a miracle, I will pray in faith and expect a miracle. I will prayerfully study my beliefs, habits, and traditions in search of anything that may be a man-made substitute for the priorities of God. I will faithfully partner with the Holy Spirit to remove it.

Be Specific ____________________________________________

Friday (John 6:25-58)

Jesus’ Discourse About the Bread of Life

6:25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” 6:26 Jesus replied, “I tell you the solemn truth, you are looking for me not because you saw miraculous signs, but because you ate all the loaves of bread you wanted. 6:27 Do not work for the food that disappears, but for the food that remains to eternal life – the food which the Son of Man will give to you. For God the Father has put his seal of approval on him.”

6:28 So then they said to him, “What must we do to accomplish the deeds God requires?” 6:29 Jesus replied, “This is the deed God requires – to believe in the one whom he sent.” 6:30 So they said to him, “Then what miraculous sign will you perform, so that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 6:31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, just as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

6:32 Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the solemn truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but my Father is giving you the true bread from heaven. 6:33 For the bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 6:34 So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread all the time!”

6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. The one who comes to me will never go hungry, and the one who believes in me will never be thirsty. 6:36 But I told you that you have seen me and still do not believe. 6:37 Everyone whom the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never send away. 6:38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. 6:39 Now this is the will of the one who sent me – that I should not lose one person of every one he has given me, but raise them all up at the last day. 6:40 For this is the will of my Father – for everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him to have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

6:41 Then the Jews who were hostile to Jesus began complaining about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven,” 6:42 and they said, “Isn’t this Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 6:43 Jesus replied, “Do not complain about me to one another. 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. 6:45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who hears and learns from the Father comes to me. 6:46 (Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God – he has seen the Father.) 6:47 I tell you the solemn truth, the one who believes has eternal life. 6:48 I am the bread of life. 6:49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 6:50 This is the bread that has come down from heaven, so that a person may eat from it and not die. 6:51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats from this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

6:52 Then the Jews who were hostile to Jesus began to argue with one another, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 6:53 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the solemn truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves. 6:54 The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 6:55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 6:56 The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood resides in me, and I in him. 6:57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so the one who consumes me will live because of me. 6:58 This is the bread that came down from heaven; it is not like the bread your ancestors ate, but then later died. The one who eats this bread will live forever.”

Prayer

Lord, You are the bread of life and nothing compares to You!

Scripture In Perspective

Jesus explains to the people gathered that He is “the bread of life” (John 6:35). In contrast to the temporary manna of the Old Testament on which the body was sustained but eventually died, His bread is both spiritual (it “came down from heaven,” vs. 58) and eternal, in that whomever eats this bread will live forever.

The passages “everyone whom the Father gives Me will come to Me” (vs. 37) and “no one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (vs. 44) both have been used to promote a fatalist doctrine, one which removes from a person any meaningful freedom of choice impacting their decision for salvation. In contrast to this fatalistic approach, verses 35-36, 45b, and 47 all speak of volitional “belief.” [Note: Whom the Father gives Me will come to Me does not define how the Father selects His followers, but rather qualifies those who choose to come to Him. And unless the Father who sent Me draws him does not qualify the drawing as being irresistible ― one may still make a volitional choice to be drawn to or turn away from Him.]

Jesus’ purpose, as recounted in John’s passage, is to attack human religious ritual that blocks and/or substitutes relationship with God in favor of works — the only so-called work God asks of His Believers is to “eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood” (John 6:53).

Faith In Action

Consider

If we accept the teaching that Jesus is “the bread of life” and understand that this means He is to be the essence of everything of value in us, are we taking in that spiritual ‘nutrition’ through daily study of the Word and unceasing prayer?

Observe the way that ritual and tradition in much of Christendom today can block the intimate spiritual relationship God so desires with us.

Reflect

Have we identified any rituals or traditions in our lives that get in the way of our relationship with God?

Have you set aside a ritual or tradition (baggage brought forward from your past) and discovered new energy in your relationship with Jesus?

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you may be trusting in something, or someone, to be your bread of life other than Him.

Act

Today I will prayerfully reflect upon a typical week in my life and look for places where rituals or traditions are getting in the way of my relationship with God. I will ask another Believer to pray in agreement with me and hold me accountable to partner with the Holy Spirit in removing those obstacles.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Saturday (Mark 7:24-37; John 6:59-71)

Mark

A Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith

7:24 After Jesus left there, he went to the region of Tyre. When he went into a house, he did not want anyone to know, but he was not able to escape notice. 7:25 Instead, a woman whose young daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him and came and fell at his feet. 7:26 The woman was a Greek, of Syrophoenician origin. She asked him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 7:27 He said to her, “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and to throw it to the dogs.” 7:28 She answered, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 7:29 Then he said to her, “Because you said this, you may go. The demon has left your daughter.” 7:30 She went home and found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Healing a Deaf Mute

7:31 Then Jesus went out again from the region of Tyre and came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee in the region of the Decapolis. 7:32 They brought to him a deaf man who had difficulty speaking, and they asked him to place his hands on him. 7:33 After Jesus took him aside privately, away from the crowd, he put his fingers in the man’s ears, and after spitting, he touched his tongue. 7:34 Then he looked up to heaven and said with a sigh, “Ephphatha” (that is, “Be opened”). 7:35 And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his tongue loosened, and he spoke plainly. 7:36 Jesus ordered them not to tell anything. But as much as he ordered them not to do this, they proclaimed it all the more. 7:37 People were completely astounded and said, “He has done everything well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

John

Many Followers Depart

6:59 Jesus said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. 6:60 Then many of his disciples, when they heard these things, said, “This is a difficult saying! Who can understand it?” 6:61 When Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining about this, he said to them, “Does this cause you to be offended? 6:62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascending where he was before? 6:63 The Spirit is the one who gives life; human nature is of no help! The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. 6:64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus had already known from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 6:65 So Jesus added, “Because of this I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has allowed him to come.”

Peter’s Confession

6:66 After this many of his disciples quit following him and did not accompany him any longer. 6:67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “You don’t want to go away too, do you?” 6:68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. 6:69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God!” 6:70 Jesus replied, “Didn’t I choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is the devil?” 6:71 (Now he said this about Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for Judas, one of the twelve, was going to betray him.)

Prayer

Lord, never let me forget that You alone have the words of eternal life and that there is nowhere I can go and nothing I can do which has even a shadow of value compared to You.

Scripture In Perspective

Jesus casts out an evil spirit in the child of a non-Jewish, Greek woman. She comes to Jesus with hope, knowing Him to be a healer and her child to be in need of someone with spiritual authority. Undeterred that she is not a Jew, she observes that “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs” (Mark 7:28), and asks for Jesus to heal her daughter. He assures her, “Because you said this....The demon has left your daughter” (vs. 29). The purpose of this story is to show that, despite the fulfillment of prophesy that the Messiah would come “to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (see Romans 1:16, 17), His blessings are not reserved for them alone, but to any and all who believe, regardless of race or national origin.

When He is asked, Jesus heals a deaf-mute in private, outside of the public forum, by putting His fingers in his ears and touching his tongue. Physically touching the man to heal him is unnecessary, as is that He “took him aside privately” (Mark 7:33), but both actions illustrate Jesus’ willingness to get close and personal. He also commands the people who witness the healing to not tell others, but they “proclaimed it all the more” (Mark 7:36), so great their joy.

Jesus teaches that works are of no value to acquire salvation — “The Spirit...gives life; human nature is of no help!” (John 6:63) — and that “no one can come to me unless the Father has allowed him to come” (vs. 65). After this, many of those who claim to be His disciples quit following Him.

When Jesus challenges the twelve disciples if they want to stop following Him as the others have, Peter declares that they have no one else to go to — they have come to believe that He alone speaks “the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

Faith In Action

Consider

Jesus loves all of us and “God does not show favoritism in dealing with people” (Acts 10:34). He does not regard worldly divisions or distinctions based upon age, color, creed, nationality, race, et cetera. Do we love others in the same manner, as unconditionally?

Reflect

Those who knew of Jesus’ miracles could not be restrained from telling His story. Are we equally astounded and awed by Him that we feel the need to tell of Him to everyone we meet?

When have you wanted and needed to approach God, but failed to do so from a (false) sense of unworthiness, a lie from the Enemy? If you prayed to overcome that, how did God honor your prayer?

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of the many ways in His Word that God has expressed His love for and investment in you.

Act

Today I choose to reject the lie of the Enemy that I am undeserving of the attention of God. I will instead accept that Jesus wants me, without consideration of my personal merit, to bring all things to Him. I will also pray for opportunity to tell His story and for the courage and wisdom to do so fearlessly, and lovingly.

Be Specific _______________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study –”The Chronological Gospels” – “Week 6 of 12” - prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in July of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

 

Related Topics: Devotionals, Curriculum