Christ’s Power Over Every Need
The Gospel of Mark Sermon Series
Five Characteristics of Religious People
Mark now moves from five stories about Jesus beginning his preaching ministry (calling disciples, astonishing teaching, casting out a demon, healing many, healing a leper) to now five more stories that deal with Jesus and how the religious leaders react to Him. So, Mark’s gospel is not chronological but put together in concepts. So, let’s define who Jesus is going to be arguing with.
Scribes – In pre-exile days of the nation of Israel, scribes were responsible for the care and storage of documents, and eventual copying of documents, including legal findings, laws, and deeds of purchase, etc. Over time they became known as “doctors of the law.” Because they were so familiar with the actual biblical documents and the commentaries of other teachers about the books of the Bible. By the time of Jesus, “The main business of the scribes was teaching and interpreting the law.” They were essentially religious lawyers.
Spiritual Blindness (vv. 2:1-12)
And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
(v. 1) “it was reported that he was at home” – word gets out that Jesus was back home, so people began to flood to see and hear Him. Many gathered so that there was a great crowd, “And he was preaching the word to them.” Jesus left the previous town because (even though there were great crowds) they would not receive his preaching – but here the focus of the evening was preaching and not healing.
The men bring their paralyzed friend but can’t get through the crowd. They go up to the roof, tear away the tiles (unroof the roof) and lower the man down in front of Jesus. “when Jesus saw their faith” – the four men showed faith in Jesus’ ability to heal their friend by going to great effort to get their friend close to Jesus. They believed that Jesus had the capability to heal their friend.
The scribes are mentioned in Mark 1:21 “And they were astonished at his [Jesus’] teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.” So, word had spread of Jesus returning to Capernaum, so the scribes go and see what his teaching was like (for themselves).
Jesus is expected to heal the man, but Jesus once again focuses on teaching and preaching. He is making a point, “that all suffering is rooted in man’s separation from God. For this reason, Jesus must call attention here to man’s deepest need; otherwise the testimony of this healing would be nothing more than the story of a remarkable miracle.”
(v. 7) ““Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Blasphemy is irreverent, profane, impious speech about God; and its penalty in the Old Testament was death (Lev. 24:16).
The scribes are right – Jesus was claiming to be able to forgive sin, and only God can forgive sin (Isa. 43:25); Therefore, Jesus has to be God in order to forgive sin. “Their fatal error was in not recognizing who Jesus really was – the Son of God who has the authority to forgive sons.” They “were not looking with open minds and hearts at a work of amazing mercy and power. They could see nothing but a departure from their tradition.”
(v. 10) “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” Jesus preached and taught the Word of God, Then He presented a situation where there can be no question as to His claim to be God, and then proves His claim by healing the man.
“Here appears for the first of fourteen times in Mark the term, “Son of Man.” It was Jesus’s favorite way to refer to himself. It was ambiguous in that it could refer to a supernatural being; It could mean humanity or divinity. “By using the term, Jesus forced people to make up their minds as to what kind of person he was.” The term “Son of Man” was also a reference to His destiny. The one who is truly human must suffer and die. But this same person is more than a man, and he must also be raised from the dead and return to glory.
(v. 12) ““We never saw anything like this!” – Here is a clear distinction between the Jewish religion and Christianity.
Earn Your Spot (vv. 2:13-17)
13 He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. 15 And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
(v. 13) “as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” With the fishermen who were called to be disciples, there was a connection to John the Baptist, and a seeking for the Savior. Here, with Matthew, there seems to be no relationship other than Matthew hearing the Word preached “by the sea.” If you were religious, and were following Jesus’ ministry the absolute last person expected to be called a disciple by a teacher would be a hated tax collector. This was not acceptable conduct by a Jewish teacher.
“Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.” – the call of Christ upon your life is one of action. Matthew got up, and began walking with Jesus. A disciple of Jesus is moving – not sitting around waiting for the world to come to him; he is moving with Jesus.
The question of the scribes of the Pharisees causes us to ask the question, “How long does it take for a person to no longer be considered a “sinner?”
Jesus is being criticized for associating with undesirable people, sinners. Mark is wanting to show how Jesus’ presence in their lives changed them. He is reenforcing the idea that Jesus can forgive sin, “for there were many who followed him,” Many who? There were people who the religious scribes saw as sinners, but as they circle around Jesus, he has forgiven their sin.
Jesus’ message begins in Mark 1:15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” There were people who repented and believed the gospel, yet would still be called “sinners” by the scribes. Jesus is not saying remain in your sin – no He is preaching repent (turn from) of your sin.
He is not saying that robbing people, or prostituting your body, or in any way sinning is ok to continue doing – but if you desire to be forgiven of that sin, to turn from it, Jesus, as the Son of God, would forgive you – and these people were circling around Jesus. It was the scribes who continued to call them “sinners.”
This is the difference between the Jewish and Christian concept to the forgiveness of sin, “No jew would have denied that God forgave people of their sin. It was the assertion ‘that God loves and saves them as sinners without waiting for them to become righteous an deserving of salvation . . . repentance to them would have meant evidence of change and the adherence to the Law’s regulations.’” Why would Jesus sit at a table and eat with people who had not shown themselves to be righteous?
(v. 17) “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” – I think this is Jesus using sarcasm. “You are righteous (in your mind), you don’t want to have anything to do sinners, I’ll focus on them, and you guys do you.”
“Jesus’ call is to salvation, and in order to share it, there must be a recognition of need. A self-righteous man is incapable of recognizing that need, but a sinner can.” No Jew would deny that the Messiah would save them from sin, but they would need to assert that God loves them and saves them as sinners.
The law was given by God and for mankind (before Jesus) was to be followed. But over time, religious leaders and teachers added to the law rules that they felt would keep people breaking the law – a wall in front of the law. So, between the law and the wall was a grey area. Jesus made the religious leaders angry because He kept jumping over the wall, and running around in that grey area.
Doing Things That Don’t Make Sense (vv. 2:18-22)
18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 19 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. 21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”
In the Old Testament law the only required fast is on the Day of Atonement. However, over time, more and more annual feasts were added by the religious leaders, so that by the time of Jesus, truly religious and pious people were fasting twice a week.
How do the people know that John’s disciples and the Pharisees are fasting? How do they know that Jesus’ disciples are not fasting? So the people have been observing religious people, and Jesus and His disciples are claiming to be religious (teaching and preaching in synagogues and along the sea, etc.) Because that’s what religious/pious people do.
In response to the people’s question, Jesus gives a series of three illustrations (a wedding, a piece of cloth, and wineskin). Explain. Why would you fast at a feast? Why sew unshrunk cloth to a shrunk cloth? Why put new wine in an old wineskin? Jesus says, “these things don’t make sense.”
Also, in each example that Jesus gives, there is something old being connected to something new. Singles now wedded (married people can’t act single), old cloth connected to new cloth, old leather coming into contact with new wine.
There is a constant tension between the old and the new. Damage is done by trying to keep the two at the same time. Jesus’ new cannot be contained by the old traditions of the religious leaders. We must not try to limit what God is doing now, because it doesn’t fit into what we have experienced in the past. Remember these old practices are keeping people from the forgiveness of sin – they are keeping people away from God.
Tradition First, People Second (vv. 2:23-28)
23 One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25 And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: 26 how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” 27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”
“Much more significant to Judaism than fasting was the observance of the sabbath. The sacredness of the day was traced back to God’s creative work (Gen. 2:1-3), and the charge to keep the sabbath day holy is one of the ten commandments (Ex. 20:8-11).”
“The main point at issue was not the act of harvesting the heads of grain (v. 23). Such activity as Jesus and his disciples were involved in was explicitly allowed in the law: “If you enter your neighbor’s grain field, you may pick kernels with your hands, but you must not put a sickle to his standing grain” (Duet. 23:25). What the Pharisees objected to (v. 24) was doing this (regarded as reaping) on the Sabbath.”
Jesus responds to their accusation by asking them a question from 1 Samuel 21:1-6, where David and the men with him were hungry and they ate consecrated bread, “twelve loaves baked of fine flour, arranged in two rows or piles on the table in the Holy Place. Fresh bread was brought into the sanctuary each Sabbath to replace the old ones that were then eaten by the priests.
Jesus is not saying that the Sabbath law has not been technically broken but that such violations under certain conditions are warranted. Human need is higher than religious ritualism.
Hardness of Heart (3:1-6)
3 Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. 2 And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” 4 And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
By the time we get to Mark’s fifth story of Jesus’ encounters with the religious leaders, we see that instead of accepting him as the Son of God, or Messiah, or Son of Man they are intentionally looking “so that they might accuse him,” and “how to destroy him.” They were there not to worship God, but to catch Jesus.
Notice that they fully believed that Jesus had the ability to heal, “And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath.” So, the issue was not could He heal, but would He heal “on the Sabbath.” Think about their reasoning; it is better for a man to suffer another 24 hours, than to be healed.
Why were they so angry with Jesus? Jesus refuses to submit to the adding on of man’s traditions. He didn’t recognize the Jewish leader’s skewed interpretation of the law (which He is the author). Even in the fact of healing proof, they held to the traditions of men.
Why is Jesus so angry with the religious leaders? Because he was “grieved at their hardness of heart.” They are accusing Jesus of breaking the sabbath, while at the same time plotting to kill him. They don’t see the hypocrisy in their own hearts. It is more important for these religious leaders to hold on to an old way, even if it is keeping sinners away from God.
 This consisted mainly in the transmission of traditional legal judgements, known as HALACHAH, and distinguished from HAGGADAH, or edifying religious discourse. The scribes’ real interest – and this applied especially to the Pharisaic scribes – was less in the plain meaning of the text than in the preservation of the legal system built upon it. . . . It was to their faithful transmission of the religion of Israel in the Greek and Roman periods that we owe the preservation of our OT scriptures, together with the foundations in Judaism of the Christian religion.” George Arthur Buttrick, Dictionary Editor, The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, R-Z (Nashville, Tennessee; Abingdon Press, 1962) 248.
 Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 8 (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan Publishing, 1984) 632.
 Geabelein, 633.
 Buttrick, 671.
 James A. Brook, The New American Commentary, Volume 23, Mark (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1991) 59.
 Brooks, 59.
 Clifton Allen, The Broadman Bible Commentary, Volume 8 (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1969) 281.
 Geabelein, 635.
 Lev. 16:29, 31; 23:27-32; Num. 29:7
 Allen, 284.
 Geabelein, 637.
 Exod. 25:30; 35:13; 39:36; Lev. 24:5-9.
 “According to the passage in Romans 1:18-32, the wrath (or anger) of God followed this pattern: (1) men who knew God nevertheless did not honor him but followed their own willful thoughts: (2) this resulted in futile thinking: “their senseless minds were darkened” (v. 21); (3) God gave them up to themselves, their own choices, their own baseness; (4) they received in their own persons the due penalty for their error” (v. 27); and (5) they came finally, no matter what they may have understood earlier to be right, blindly approve of evil (v. 32). This description of the workings of God’s wrath is also a description of hardness of heart.” Allen, 287.
Gratitude Sermon Series
The Man Who Remembered to Say “Thank You”
Jesus tells a story about ten lepers who are healed. Two shocking facts are revealed. The first is that only one of them comes back to say, “Thank You.” The second is that that one who returned was a Samaritan. God’s grace is available to all people, even your enemy. We must be careful to not just receive God’s blessings, but to thank Him for them.
From Exclusion to Inclusion (vv. 11-14)
“On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed.
Jesus is on his final journey to Jerusalem, “The Lord was still in Perea when word reached Him of the serious illness of His friend Lazarus of Bethany. A few days later, He went to Bethany, raised Lazarus, and, because of the increasing plots against Him, retired to an unknown location. He took the disciples into retirement before going to face the final storm in Jerusalem.”
The words “On the way to Jerusalem” remind the reader to the reader that Jesus is moving toward his passion. From where Jesus is you can almost see the city.
“he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance” – If you were a leper (today it’s called Hansen’s Disease), you had to announce yourself when you approached a person or group, in medieval times a leper would ring a bell, and yell “unclean!” You had to stay at a distance or people would throw stones at you.
There were also varying local customary expectations, “Two rabbis disputing the question maintained, one, that it was not fit to come within a hundred cubits of a leper; the other within four cubits, when he stood between them and the wind. Another would not eat an egg if laid in a courtyard where a leper was.”
“and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” – In the previous healing of the lepers he touched them and they were healed, but here he tells them to, “14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.”
Jesus commands them to do what a cleansed leper was supposed to do. Yet they stood there, looking as though they had crawled from out of a grave, in various stages of decay and disfigurement, clothing torn from constant mourning, skeleton heads and sunken eyes layered with rags soaked in decaying and putrid flesh.
Leviticus 14:2 “The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “This shall be the law of the leprous person for the day of his cleansing. He shall be brought to the priest, . .” They are on their way to have the purification rights performed for them by the priests. “If they were cured, they would joyfully undergo an eight-day ceremony and then be reunited with their families.”
“And as they went they were cleansed.” – This reminds us of the Old Testament story of Naaman in 2 Kings 5:10,14. “Naaman was a foreigner who was healed of leprosy by Elisha; Naaman was then converted to Israel’s faith.” 14 “And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” . . . “14 So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.” As the men were going about doing what they were told to do, they were cured.
If you are absolutely on the bottom, you have nothing to lose in trying Jesus, and taking Him at His word. So, the consensus was to begin the leper’s pace of hobbling to the Temple, which would have been a considerable walk. There were no mirrors out on the road, but as these ten men begin the trip suddenly, they begin to see each other change.
“From cadaverous faces reemerged ears, noses, eyebrows, lashes, hairlines. Feet – toeless, ulcerated stubs – were suddenly whole, bursting through small little sandals, Knobby appendages grew fingers. Barnacled skin became soft and supple. It would have been like being born again. The dust of a wild celebration quickly began in the bright sunlight.”
From Inclusion to Perception (vv. 15-19)
15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”
Why does the one turn and head back to Jesus once “he saw that he was healed?” As he is running to the Temple, he realizes that he has been healed, and then realizes that Jesus is something more than he understood and he returns because he perceives that there is more to life, than to be cured and to return to a “normal life.”
So the one leper “turned back” – “ceremony must yield to substance, and that main points of obedience must take place of all ritual complements.” “Christ had ordered it, and the Law demanded it. But the letter killeth. Love overrules Acts of Parliament. The nine held by the Law, but the one got the grace.”
Jacob wrestling with God – you have to deal with your relationship with God. Genesis 32:22ff.
“Now he was a Samaritan” – The lepers were all together, Jews and Samaritans – when you are a leper, politics, racism, Jewish history really doesn’t matter. When you are a social outcast, hated by society, the lowest of the low, and having to beg to eat, there is no hope for you to be anything but a leper, and eventually die.
To be a leper was awful, but to add the fact he was a Samaritan just doubled the fact that he was an outcast. But as the one man was healed, he had a choice to run to the temple, begin the ceremony and rejoin his family, or go back and thank God for his healing. If he waited, he may not be able to find him to thank him.
“It is the Gentile, the Samaritan, the outcasts and sinners, who respond enthusiastically to the offer of the Good News. Unlike the religious and proud, who assume that their piety guarantees their salvation, the outcasts and sinners assume no such thing (see 18:9-14) and eagerly accept God’s gracious invitation (see 14:15-24). The foreigner is the only one who came back to give thanks to God, because only he recognized his sin and his need to repent.”
So, at this point the Jewish 9 separated from the 1 Samaritan. Their illness had drawn them together, but their freedom caused them to separate. What do you do with the freedom that Christ has given you? For these men they are free to go to their homes, begin working again, rejoin society – feel the touch of others, to be accepted by people. That overwhelming desire to belong, outweighed the spiritual obligation to be thankful.
What marks the difference between the 10 lepers is not that one is thankful, and the other nine are ungrateful. The difference is that one of the them has the perception to understand who Jesus is. If you are cured then you only need Jesus (miracle worker) once, if you seek Jesus for salvation (Son of God) then you need Him every day.
The nine lepers were cured of their bodily disease (leprosy), they were not aware that they had not been cured of their spiritual disease. 2 Peter 1:9 “For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.”
When you understand God to be right before you, you don’t run away from Him, you throw yourself at His feet. When Mary realizes that it was Jesus after He had risen from the dead, she grabs Him and does not let Him go. John 20:16-17a “Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, . . .”
“praising God with a loud voice”— He wanted everyone to know that Jesus had healed him. Earlier, he had pleaded in a loud voice, now he is praising in a loud voice? Who is it that is the most thankful to God? It is those that realize how really sick they are:
Matthew 9:12-13 “And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
“Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” – Jesus fully expected that all ten would return. God should be at the center of their gratitude.
But their focus was here and now, temporal. Anyone can be thankful for something, but it is including the eternal God as the ultimate source of all that we have to be thankful for that is essential. Christ wanted these men’s hearts, not just their thanks. The nine missed an opportunity to be with Jesus. The nine missed being saved.
The Jewish people were looking for a Savior, a promised Messiah (Genesis 3), if anyone should have recognized Jesus as the Messiah it should have been the Jewish people, but here a Samaritan is the one who received salvation.
“19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” – “you may proceed to the priest with the assurance that you are thoroughly cured.” The Samaritan leper put God in His proper place in his life, before he started to reorder and put his life back together after his illness. His perception of who Jesus was came from a heart of gratitude.
The other nine are healed, but without God being at the center of their lives and understanding that it is God who heals us, blesses us, saves us, and has a purpose and plan for our lives – then it won’t be very long before the other nine will be sick again – maybe not form leprosy but from a life where God is not the center.
In the original language where it says, “your faith has made you well” it literally says, “your faith has saved you.” The nine had received a cure, the one received a cure and salvation. The one had leprosy on the outside which was healed, but he also had a spiritual leprosy on the inside that was healed as well. Gratitude allows you to be in place of receiving far more than you had anticipated and understanding an even deeper need.
The one is described as both a “Samaritan” emphasizing genealogy and “foreigner” emphasizing nationality. It doesn’t matter what your last name is or where you came from – salvation is received by faith in Jesus. There is an inscription from the limestone block from the Temple of Israel which reads, “Let not the foreigner enter within the screen and enclosure surrounding the sanctuary.”
Where once those who were not Jewish were kept outside – we could not enter into presence of God. But through the healing and cure of Jesus’ death on a cross – we can have salvation and enter into His presence.
The big idea of this passage is that there were people who were excluded, kept outside (because of a disease) that were allowed to enter back into society by being healed, which was emphasized by the fact that one of them was a Samaritan. Then one of the ten were allowed into God’s eternal presence through salvation that came through faith in Jesus.
We should show gratitude toward God because we have been healed of our sin and are now allowed to come into the presence of God and have eternal life. From Exclusion to Inclusion. We show genuine gratitude because it gives us perception to understand that all things come from God and He involved with every aspect of our lives.
This story also shows us that faith and salvation have to merge together. The nine men believed in God, they obeyed what was commanded to them, but once physically healed we don’t have any indication they ever came back. In order for a person to be saved, faith and Jesus have to come together. Just believing in God is not enough, we have to have a relationship with Jesus. We have to perceive that life is more than just getting what we want here and now, but there is an eternal purpose and plan for our lives.
 Luke 9:51
 John Phillips, Exploring The Gospel of Luke (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Kregel Publications, 2005) 225.
 Leviticus 13:45; Numbers 5:2; 12:10-12
 George R. Bliss, An American Commentary on the New Testament, Mark and Luke (Valley Forge, Pennsylvania; Judson Press, 1881) 261.
 Matthew 8:1-4
 The is no written record that this ritual was ever even performed (Phillips, 226).
 R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word, Luke (Wheaton, Illinois; Crossway Publishing, 2015) 604.
 Fred B. Craddock, Interpretation. A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville, Kentucky; John Knox Press, 1990) 204.
 Hughes, 604.
 This is the only time in the New Testament that this word (foreigner) is used (Green, 626).
 J. Willcock, B.D. A Homiletic Commentary on the Gospel According to St. Luke (New York, New York; Funk and Wagner Company; 1896) 472.
 Ibid, 472.
 “The region of Samaria in Old Testament times (tenth to eighth centuries BC) was inhabited by the ten northern tribes of Israel. Following the death of Solomon, the northern tribes seceded from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin in the south. The southern kingdom became known as Judah, while the northern kingdom was initially known as Israel, until it eventually came to be called Samaria after its capital city. In the eight century Samaria was overrun by the Assyrians. Its inhabitants were exiled, and in their place foreign peoples were settled. In the centuries that followed a half-Jewish and half-Gentile race of people emerged with which the Jews of Judah to the south and of Galilee to the north frequently quarreled and whom the Jews loathed” (Evans, 258).
 Craig A. Evans, New International Biblical Commentary, Luke (Peabody, Massachusetts; Hendrickson, Publishers, 2005) 256.
 “The story anticipates what is yet to come in Acts: a growing blindness in Israel, a receptivity among Gentiles. Why was this the case? Israel’s special place in God’s plan for the world had turned in upon itself, duty had become privilege, and frequent favors had settled into blinding familiarity (Phillips, 203).”
 This is the only time in the New Testament that this word foreigner is used (Green, 626).
 Bliss, 262.
 Hughes 606.
 Joel B. Green, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of Luke (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997) 621.
 A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Luke (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1932) 228.
Gathering At The Lord’s Table
1 Corinthians 11:17-34
The backdrop of today’s passage is the disorder of the Corinthian church. Paul is so concerned about several issues that have reached him from far away, that he sits down to address them in the epistle of 1 Corinthians.
A Church That Has Lost Its’ Way (vv. 17-22)
But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.
The early church celebrated the Lord’s Supper around a meal, Jude even calls it a “love feast (Jude 12). At the meal it seems a possibility that one could over eat, or drink too much wine.
Also, the people seem to arrive in stages. Those who have the flexibility to leave their jobs early, or have jobs that don’t require them to clean up or change clothes arrive before those who cannot or need to clean up.
The meal seems to be purchased from the common funds of the church, and those that arrive early are getting the choice parts of the meal, and those arriving later get the picked over portions, or no food at all.
Around this meal, there seems to be divisions among the church. You know you have a problem as a church when things are worse when you get together instead of better; Paul says, “it is not for the better but for the worse.”
Paul also says, “in the first place. . .” He indicates that there are other issues, but disunity, cliques, and division in the church crowds out whatever else was on his mind. This issue was so consuming on Paul’s mind that he never moves on to “in the second place, third place, etc.” This topic that Paul writes the churches about was a deadly sin, and he knew it would destroy the church if not dealt with. Whenever they get together – the people are worse in spirit instead of better.
Paul even says that while they thought they were celebrating the Lord’s Supper in reality they were not, “When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat.” Is it possible to be so carried away by sin that a church can think they are doing some religious act, but in reality, it is not recognized by God?
Buttrick said, “The greatest sins have always been the abuse of the greatest blessings.” One of the greatest gifts and blessing that the Lord has given to Christians is the local church. It is the fellowship that we share that gives the church strength. We destroy fellowship by not exercising love toward the neighbor.
But like spoiled children we (the church) just expect it to always be there, we see it as something not to be revered, but something to get something out of. If you don’t like this one, then just go down the street to another one.
The American church has wealthy churches, poor churches, cowboy churches, black churches, traditional churches, contemporary churches, not to mention denominations, Baptist, Methodist, Church of Christ, Pentecostal, etc. You name it, there is a church for all of our preferences. But in the city of Corinth – there was one Christian church and that was your only church. So you had wealthy people, poor people, slaves, different races, all gathered on an equal footing to worship, and to experience life together. 
There was a foundational teaching of the church that was being lost. Instead of the Lord’s Supper reminding them of Jesus’ sacrifice and ultimate mission for the church – it had become a fellowship meal with little fellowship and for some no meal. There was little love at the love feast. There were drunk people stagger about, people gorging themselves on the food, little groups forming that caused division, and poor people being embarrassed because they were hungry and had nothing to eat.
When the Church focuses on the wrong things, it enters into areas of danger. They had forgotten what the Lord’s Supper means and had turned the gathered church into something resembling the world around them.
So Paul says, “Do you not have houses to eat and drink in?” The purpose of the gathering of the church is not for them to eat and drink, they could do that at home, the purpose was to experience the Lord’s Supper together. How do you fix a church that has lost its’ way? How do you address a church that is focused only on themselves and their preferences?
A church that has disunity, a lack of concern for others (especially their own church members), and is given over to sin (gluttony, drunkenness) is open season for Satan. It is only a matter of time before its’ over. So Paul is greatly concerned, “I do not commend you.”
Paul then reminds them of what the Lord’s Supper means.
The Reminder of Why They Assemble (23-26)
“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
Paul begins his explanation with “that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread . . .” There was no further need to set the time he was talking about – it was the night when he was betrayed. He links their actions of division, greed, and uncaring for one another to Judas. “You guys remember when that guy Judas, betrayed Jesus?” Yeah, that night, Jesus took some bread . . .
25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Paul includes “after supper” – which gives us a clue that the Lord’s Supper would traditionally be celebrated after a fellowship meal, or at least came after the meal when Jesus and the disciples first had the Lord’s Supper. Jesus may also have taken the bread and passed it out and then some-time later passed the cup. So, if it were traditionally celebrated after the meal – there are some who would be drunk during the sacrament.
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood” – Jesus is saying that there was an old covenant between God and His people, but now there is a new covenant. We see this foretold in Jeremiah 31:31-34 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
“Rather than giving the people laws and ceremonies they must obey, God will work a transformation of the heart of each believer.” In John 3, Jesus has the conversation with Nicodemus and his needing to be born again.
Even though God’s people, in the marriage, broke the old covenant, “my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband” God is metaphorically taking them back to the exodus from Egypt and reestablishing a covenant, but this one will be different. Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper at the Passover, which commemorated the Exodus (Exod. 12:14-27).
This new covenant, that involves a transformation of the heart, is established by a blood offering, Jesus says, “the new covenant in my blood.” This blood will cover all sin, in fact, God will remember the sin no more.
Ordinarily blood was shed to symbolize the bond between those who enter covenant. The Old Testament Passover meal had the people wiping blood over the doorposts and eating a special meal — This new covenant involves only God’s blood, that is shed.
In verses 25-26 we see that the Lord’s Supper is a remembrance and proclamation, “in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we are remembering a resurrected Lord, A God who shed His blood for us, but did not stay dead, and that same resurrected Lord will return.
In the Old Testament God encourages Israel to remember the sabbath day (Exodus 20:8), or to remember to keep the commandments (Numbers 15:39), and Moses in Deuteronomy encourages Israel to remember God, his deeds, the desert journey, how they were once slaves in Egypt – these memories will instruct them on how to treat the foreigners in their own communities.
These memories should correct behavior that goes outside of what they should have learned from the experiences. When we remember Jesus, and how he laid down his life for us (specifically his body and blood), then that should have a corrective impact on our behavior toward other believers, the church, in our own sinful behavior, and the lost around us.
The proclamation of the Lord’s Supper is a way of preaching the gospel, to act it out. It is done again and again to proclaim our deliverance from sin, just like the Passover for the Jewish people was repeated to recall their deliverance from slavery in Egypt.
It is the ministry of the church to proclaim the gospel to the unbelieving world. “When the world sees the church eating and drinking in order to remember the significance of Christ’s body and blood, the word of the gospel is made visible.”
Therefore, we can pull three reasons why the church should regularly celebrate the Lord’s Supper;
1) It reminds us to look back to the redemptive historic work of Jesus and the cross; the once and for all sacrifice is the ransom for all who put their faith in Him; His body was broken for us, and His blood covers all our sin.
2) It draws us to worship the ever-present Lord; “the meal declares the sacrifice by which the covenant is entered.” We are entering into a covenant with God, and we are entering this covenant together with other believers (in our church).
3) It encourages the church to look forward to the consummation of time, and the return of Jesus. When Jesus returns the Lord’s Supper reminds us to be found faithful.
The Lord’s Supper is something that we participate in, it is an action that we do as believers. However, the Lord’s Supper reminds us to monitor our relationship with the Lord and how we approach Him in worship.
A Warning of Continued Undiscerning Behavior (vv. 27-34)
27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.8 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. 33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— 34 if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.”
“an unworthy manner” – We know that some or many of the church at Corinth were partaking of the Lord’s Supper by being greedy, drunkenness, causing divisions among the brethren, etc. but these are not the only ways. Traditionally this has been interpreted to mean taking of the Lord’s Supper while having unconfessed sin. The period of examination is time to seek forgiveness of sin before you take of the Lord’s Supper.
But in this passage it seems to be even more specific than that. Paul seems to be indicating that when a person participates in the Lord’s Supper in such a way that failed to exhibit the unity of the church in Christ. The solution to this “unworthy” manner was to wait. Paul says, “wait for one another.” Take others into account. Consider your brothers and sisters in Christ while we gather together.
The Lord’s Supper is a time of self-reflection, Paul says to “Let a person examine himself.” During this time of examination, the person should search the Holy Spirit of personal sin, but the judgement mentioned here is the person who is not encouraging the unity of the church, and in that unity, the remembering and proclamation of Christ.
We should not focus so much on ourselves during the supper but on Christ and what He has done for all believers. The focus of this meal is not a time where we all “get right with the Lord” at the same time. But if we truly discerned what we are like, then there would be no judgement.
When the Church does not exercise the Lord’s Supper properly, they are “guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.” The Lord has given the church an ordinance that specifically teaches and shares the gospel to the world and reminds the church of the things we mentioned earlier – when that is corrupted it becomes just another meal – and if that’s the case then Paul says, “eat at home.”
Just like the Jewish people not performing the Passover correctly, they would forget about their days in slavery – now the church may forget the body and blood of Jesus and why it is so important.
They would be sinning against the hope of salvation. The gathering church is a blessing given to Christians – together in unity they celebrate the Lord’s Supper as a message to the world of the gospel. When we don’t do this there is judgement. When we get this right, we accomplish Jesus’ desire for His church until He comes again.
With these things in mind – we will now celebrate the Lord’s Supper.
 George Buttrick, The Interpreters Bible, Vol. 10 (Nashville, Tennessee; Abington Press, 1953) 131.
 Ordinal numbers indicating the order in a sequence.
 Buttrick, 131.
 Buttrick, 133.
 Ibid, 138.
 Fred M. Wood, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Jeremiah & Lamentations (Nashville, Tennessee; Holman Reference, 2006) 262.
 “Not all the blood of beasts, On Jewish alters slain, Could give the guilty conscience peace, Or wash away our stain.” Isaac Watts, “Not All the Blood of Beasts.”
 J. Andrew Dearman, The NIV Application Commentary, Jeremiah & Lamentations (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan Publishing, 2002) 287.
 Clifton Allen, Gen Ed., The Broadman Bible Commentary, Volume 10 (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Publishing, 1970) 358.
 George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, K-Q (Nashville, Tennessee; Abingdon Press, 1980) 345. Memorial, Memory
 Allen, 359.
 Richard Pratt, Holman New Testament Commentary, 1 & 2 Corinthians (Nashville, Tennessee; Holman Reference, 2000) 201.
 Buttrick, 139.
 Pratt, 205.
 Ibid, 202.