Jesus Moved On

“They were astonished at His teaching, for He taught as one having authority, and not as the scribes”

Mark 1:22

In the synagogue they were astonished with the manner of Jesus’ teaching for He spoke with authority and did not appeal to the writings of men. In this He was quite different to the scribes. The essence of Jesus’ preaching and teaching at this time is recorded in verse fifteen, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.” That He had this authority is revealed in the rebuke of an unclean spirit (v 25), healing Peter’s mother-in-law (v 31), the many healed and demons cast out (v 34) and the healing of a leper (v 42). All these, and the many other miracles of Jesus, serve to reveal who He is.

At first the teaching got the attention of people but that was soon overridden by the miracles. Word quickly got around and Jesus was virtually mobbed, not for His teaching but for miracles (1:32; 3:7-12). For this reason Jesus departed. He is not a travelling circus. He has a message for people (v 15) and when people are distracted and not listening to the message, He moves on (v 35) to other places to preach His message (v 38). Even though there were many more sick people and demon possessed people, He moved on. The Gospel message is far more important than physical healing. He still moves on when our churches are distracted by clamouring for temporal miracles.

When Jesus healed the leper He asked him not to spread it around. The leper did not obey and soon Jesus was mobbed again (1:45). People mobbed Him not for the message but for healing. With the change of focus the message was lost so Jesus moved on.

There is a clamour for healing in many religious circles including many Christian churches today. When people are distracted by the potential for miracles they do not give attention to the Gospel message. Satan has been counterfeiting Christ and corrupting His message for two thousand years and isn’t about to give up this successful distraction and diversion (Mark 13:22; Matthew 7:22-23). We are all glad when God does heal someone or delivers a person from demonic influence or possession – but we must be careful that we don’t lose the message of the most important deliverance, “Repent and believe the gospel.” The miracle of new birth is the only one that matters (John 3:3; Ephesians 2:1, 8-10).

Declaration of Ownership

“God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them” Exodus 2:25

As in child birth, pain often precedes pleasure and joy. The birth of the nation of Israel would be no different and it has similarities with the nation’s rebirth at the end of the Great Tribulation.

In the last three verses of Exodus two we find Israel groaning under the weight of bondage as slaves in Egypt. In their pain and suffering they cried out to the Lord. God had been with them all along but now that the people were crying out for deliverance He would act.

First we note that He heard the cries of Israel for deliverance to the point of acting (v 24). But on what basis would He act? In the same verse we are given the answer; “God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.” It isn’t that God had forgotten His covenant. This and the preceding chapter are evidence of that but He is now going to act in a special way with regard to that covenant.

When we read that “God looked upon the children of Israel,” it isn’t that He had been distracted elsewhere but that He was taking into account their present situation and their crying out for deliverance. He would now act.

Finally, in these verses, we note that God acknowledged Israel and was concerned for them. The idea here is that of a relationship, that of a father for his son (4:22). God is declaring His ownership of Israel. As such He will act to deliver Israel. He affirms this again in 3:7 where He refers to Israel as “My people.”

This is a beautiful picture of Israel’s future. The closing days of the Great Tribulation will see Israel again crying out to God for deliverance. On that occasion the Lord Jesus Himself will appear for the same reason that He gave attention to Israel as recorded in Exodus two, “God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.” He will then deliver believing Israel and believing Gentiles and establish His earthly kingdom.

These circumstances have a parallel with salvation now. When a person is sick and tired of the corruption of this world, bondage to sin and death, they will cry out to God for deliverance. Jesus promises to respond. He said, “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine [teaching], whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority” (John 7:17). When a person desires to hear the truth Jesus will ensure they hear it and know that it is true but it is up to the person as to whether they will receive it and trust Jesus and His word.

It is the delight of the child of God to know that Jesus Christ declares His ownership of them and in due course will do so publicly. Of greatest importance is that He will declare His redeemed to the Father.

A Red Sea Day

“You will arise and have mercy on Zion;

For the time to favour her,

Yes, the set time, has come”

Psalm 102:13

The writer of this Psalm follows the pattern of several other Psalms. It is a pattern from which we can learn and profit in our daily lives. We may not be in his exact situation but it is possible that we will have similar thoughts and feel the same emotions as a result of seemingly impossible situations in which we find ourselves.

In the first eleven verses we discover that he feels as though the Lord has deserted him and death looms large and imminent (v 11). His enemies clearly have the upper hand (v 8) and in great agony of heart and desperation he calls out to the Lord for speedy relief. He requests speedy relief because his end seems at hand.

His pain is revealed in that he is deeply affected emotionally (vv 3, 4). This has also caused a loss of appetite so that he is not eating properly – if at all (v 5), and is causing him to lose sleep (vv 6, 7). Out of this he cries out to the Lord for a speedy response (v 2).

The Lord’s response to the psalmist is recorded from verse twelve and commences with, “But You, O Lord …”

The response the writer receives is a guide for us when we feel that we are in an impossible situation. For truly “born from above” Christians we can expect this will happen at least several times in our walk with the Lord. It is a part of learning to trust the Lord at our “Red Sea” times. Do you remember that when Israel left Egypt the Lord wasted no time in bringing Israel to an impossible situation at the Red Sea? Read about it in Exodus 14.

As the psalmist writes his eyes are lifted to the horizon of time when Israel will rise to glory under the Lord’s hand and leadership (vv 13, 21, 22). Not only is he gazing with the eye of faith in God’s covenant promises toward the earthly reign of Messiah Jesus on King David’s throne in Jerusalem but also to the more distant horizon where he sees the new heavens and new earth (v 26). On that horizon is the New Jerusalem lit up by the glory of God 24/7 with no need of the sun (Revelation 21:22-27).

When we focus on our short term problems the Lord will provoke us to lift our eyes to see His long term outcome. This will restore a correct perspective and renew hope even when we feel despair in what appears to be a hopeless situation. When Joshua was faced with an impossible situation “he lifted his eyes and looked” (Joshua 5:13) and the answer was before him. Another Psalm (123:1) encourages us:

“Unto You, I lift my eyes,

O You who dwell in the heavens”

In Psalm 121:1 the writer lifts his eyes and sees his enemies in the hills and asks the question, “From whence comes my help?” The answer is in the next verse, “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

Many of us will face impossible situations in the coming year. Perhaps you can already feel the sands of your “Red Sea” between your toes. Just as the Lord led Israel to that impossible situation He has led or will lead you to yours. Lift your eyes to the horizon of time that the Lord gives in the Bible. It is the Lord who made heaven and earth and will make a new heaven, new earth and New Jerusalem who will open the way for you.