Christ’s Power Over Every Need
The Gospel of Mark Sermon Series
“Teaching as Doctrines the Commandments of Men”
Bee keeping suit as a sin suit.
Religious People Focus on Little Things At the Expense of Big Things (vv. 1-5)
Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, 2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”
In Mark chapter 6 we see the feeding of the five thousand, and as the disciples are concluding the day they board a boat with 12 baskets of bread and fish. Chapter seven is the following afternoon, so it stands to reason that the disciples were eating the bread and fish from the day before. “But the objection raised is on ceremonial, not sanitary, grounds.”
There are Pharisees and scribes (religious leaders in the Jewish culture) who were gathering to observe Jesus and his disciples. This is the second time that these teachers of the law had come from Jerusalem to find fault with Jesus’ teaching.
They appear to be an investigating committee and when they investigated “they saw the little things. But they never saw the big things. They saw the violations of their hand washing codes. They did not see Jesus. They never took an open loo so that the true nature of the man and his teaching might come fairly before them.” They are so focused on pots and pans, and how you hold your hands when you wash them, and going through the prescribed motions, they overlook the Savior of the world.
“Not dirty hands” – that was not the point of the objection – but with hands unwashed, not ceremonially purified according to their ideas of necessity. It also says that some “some of his disciples” – Some of the disciples then, had gone through the process of being ceremonially cleaning their hands, and some had not.
Being unclean or impure causes a separation between God and His people and had resulted in the people having to leave the land – The traditions and teachings of the elders were trying to accomplish three things;
“It made the basic requirement that Israel be holy to the Lord something attainable for every Jew in everyday life. The Pharisees never thought that they were voiding the commands of God – only making them more applicable.”
“the tradition of the elders sought to forestall the dominant pagan culture from making inroads into Jewish life (see Lev. 20:1-7). It encouraged the devout to make conscious efforts to set themselves apart from the unwashed hordes destined for destruction. Actions, such as washing hands, were tangible positive gestures that displayed who God’s elect were.” These outward traditions were a way to show who was “in” and who was “out.”
“The tradition of the elders assumes that God created order and that human affairs prosper when things are divinely ordered – even when they seem only to be minor issues.” So for example when discussing hand washing, the elders specified “the quantity of water required, the position of the hands, and the type of vessel to be used.” And they even added what to say while you are washing your hands.
Does living one’s life according to the tradition of the elders keep you from being defiled?
No, because they become a substitute for faith. Superficial preoccupation with ceremonies had supplanted a deeper faith.
In John 17:14 we get the phrase that Christians are to be in the world, but are not to be of the world, “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” Being set apart, distinctly different from the world around us, is not the ultimate destination; it is beginning of a journey, a purpose. The John 17 passage goes on to say, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”
Religious People Replace the Truth With Tradition (vv. 6-13)
6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah, where even during his time, this same thing was occurring. The people’s worship was hollow, vain, worthless – they were going through the traditional motions, with no desire from their heart to draw near to God – because they were “teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” These man made commandments became a substitute for genuine heartfelt, God honoring worship.
“Tradition was the ecclesiastical version of the law – the law as it came out of the hands of the great teachers. It was regarded as equally authoritative with the written law itself, and, by some, even more so. It was the very life and mission of the Pharisees to keep the traditional interpretations in full force.”
The Mishna, a collection of Jewish traditions in the Talmud, records, “It is a greater offense to teach anything contrary to the voice of the Rabbis than to contradict Scripture itself.” – the traditions of the elders have become more important than the Word of God itself.
So Jesus came to heal people, cast out demons, and to teach – and this is a bondage that Jesus was intent on freeing people from. The religious leaders covered the law with these traditions, so that the original Word of God was lost, but it also shovels unnecessary weight of rules and traditions that suffocated the spirit of the people.
“They had covered up the Word of God with their oral teaching. Jesus here shows that they care more for the oral teaching of the scribes and elders than for the written law of God.” They are not adding to the Word of God, they have substituted their own traditions in its’ place.
When we “teach[ing] as doctrine[s] the commandments of men” – there is no need for faith, and there is no need for heart. Your actions are not rooted in a love for God, only in wanting to appear and be in your own effort “good.” I am not a sinner, I am a godly person – see what I do!
An Example of this Substitution (vv. 9-12)
9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God) — 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
Jesus has called their teachings, “tradition of men,” “commandments of men,” and in verse 9, “your tradition” with the emphasis on your – thus disowning it himself. Jesus is completely rejecting their teachings because “it does not represent the will of God but can be used to legitimize the breaking of God’s command.”
(v. 11) Corban is the word for “a gift or offering to God.” Once the offering to God was given, it could not be taken back. “The single uttering of the word Corban “sacred gift” over a thing was supposed to set that thing apart from all ordinary uses and give it the character of a consecrated thing.” In the case of property a person could designate it as corban, and continue to use it with the intention of upon the person’s death it would then be used as an offering to God.
So instead of supporting his father and money, a son could say that the money was an offering to God, and then the Pharisees then forbid the son from using it to support his parents (it was a gift to God) and then allowed the son to use the money for himself.
It was a tricky way to keep from following the Word of God (taking care of one’s parents) and then using the money on yourself. Jesus is saying that such a vow is invalid, because it violates God’s command to honor parents.
But these traditions that find their way into the church often times tear churches apart. The author Swift describes in “Gulliver’s voyage to Lilliput, between the party which believed that an egg should be cracked at the big end and the party which believed that it should be cracked at the little end. So the big enders and the little enders fought to the death, to the complete ruin of their country.” Religious people can be incredibly cruel and heartless.
Religious People Think They Are Made Right With God By Outward Actions (vv. 14-23)
Things That Do Not Defile Us (vv.14-19)
14 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” 17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.)
Moses’ law teaches not to eat certain types of animals (crustaceans, pork, divided hoof animals, etc.) because by eating these things you break the law and thereby become ceremonially unclean. Jesus says, what makes us ceremonially clean or unclean has nothing to do with what we eat – so is Jesus disagreeing with the law?
Jesus’ teachings “not only takes issue with a major feature of traditional Jewish religious practice but also rescinds a major body of OT material dealing with such ritual laws.” Also, new gentile believers who would be reading Mark’s gospel would be asking, “so should I be following the OT ceremonial teachings?
Matthew 5:17-18 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”
The purpose of the law was to show mankind that no matter how hard they sought to keep God’s standard, they couldn’t and were in need of a Savior. The Pharisees and their traditions undercut that intention of the law. They taught you could please God by following their rules – Jesus says that’s impossible. “Jesus’ main point is that uncleaness is moral rather than ritual.”
Things That Do Defile Us (vv. 20-23)
20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
(v. 18) “And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding?” – “They had been trained in Judaism, in which the distinction between clean and unclean is ingrained, and could not understand a statement abrogating this. They had noticed the Pharisees stumbling at the parable of Jesus (Matt. 15:12). They were stumbling themselves and did not know how to answer the Pharisees.” 
This way of thinking was so instilled into their thinking that it was very difficult for them to change their own way of thinking. Tradition has this effect upon us, we stop seeking the higher things, and are content to follow the lower things’ “it’s just how we do things.”
Jesus releases people from the anxiety of thinking they have to follow all these rules and traditions, and the idea that their defilement or uncleanliness comes from something they may touch or eat on the outside. But, He also makes them aware that they are themselves the sources of their own defilement and the law does not give them an escape. “The only defilement worth serious consideration is that caused by the evil which comes out of the heart.”
You can’t clean the heart with a fistful of water in cupped hands. If I am the source of my own defilement – and that uncleanliness causes me to be distanced from God, and I find no hope in the following the law or the traditions of the elders, how then am I made clean, how can I be brought close again to God? What must I do to be saved?
The law was given to help us realize that we have a corrupt and sinful nature, and are in need of a Savior. Jesus came to fulfill the law by being the Savior that mankind needs. Romans 7:6 “But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.”
 Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Volume 1 (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1930) 321.
 George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 7 (Nashville, Tennessee; Abingdon Press, 1953) 747.
 W. N. Clarke, Commentary on the Gospel of Mark (Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, Judson Press, 1950) 97.
 Clinton E. Arnold, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan Publishing, 2002) 247.
 Arnold, 248.
 “Blessed is He who has sanctifies us with his commands and commanded us concerning the washing of hands” Arnold, 248.
 Isaiah 29:13
 Clarke, 98.
 Max Anders, Holman New Testament Commentary, Mark (Nashville, Tennessee; Holman Reference, 2000) 117.
 Robertson, 322.
 Exodus 20:12; 21:16
 The religious leaders were backing their teachings on Numbers 30:1-10, where it speaks of keeping a vow made to God. Jesus is rejecting the idea of using one biblical text to negate another biblical text.
 Larry W. Hurtado, New International Biblical Commentary, Mark (Peabody, Massachusetts; Hendrickson Publishing, 2001) 110.
 James A. Brooks, The New American Commentary, Mark (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1991) 117.
 Clarke, 100.
 Robertson, 323.
 Buttrick, 750.
 Mark 7:16 “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear,” “Verse 16 does not appear in NIV, (or ESV) because, though it is present in the majority of the MSS, it does not occur in the important Alexandrian witnesses. It appears to be a scribal gloss.” 680. Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 8 (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan Publishing, 1984) 680.
 Brooks, 119.
 Robertson, 324.
 Alexander Balmain Bruce, The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Volume 1 (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Grand Rapids Book Manufacturers, 1967) 389.
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.
â€œVision annihilatorsâ€ are beliefs, assumptions, practices and emotions that arise to prevent the vision from emerging or from being widely accepted.Â These are the people who say â€œBut weâ€™ve never done it this way before.â€Â They tend to come from one of four ways of thinking:
A.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Tradition
God uses tradition to give people a sense of stability and it provides a sense of consistency.Â But God does reshape tradition in order to go forward into the future.Â Maturity means growing beyond your past.Â No one would say that a child was healthy if it remained exactly the same for years at a time.
Tradition is the â€œstepping stoneâ€ of where God is directing ministry to go.Â It should not become a millstone that pulls the ministry down to legalistic depths. Rick Warren also uses the example of a shoe that is outgrown. As the foot grows, if you donâ€™t change into a larger shoe, it then becomes very uncomfortable and may even damage the foot and the development of the rest of the body.
B.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Fear
Change means stepping out of oneâ€™s comfort zone, doing new things.Â Change can be scary and un-nerving.Â There are several reasons why fear keeps us from seeing Godâ€™s vision. One is that we have failed in the past.Â We should define defeat as making the same mistakes more than once.Â Instead of fearing future failures we should learn from past mistakes. Fear is a sin.Â It is a lack of faith in God to do what He says He will do.
Another reason for fear is that one may be concerned that the may mess up or ruin what they already have. So instead of moving forward, they are content to keep things in their current condition. Sometimes the only cure for this fear is the pain that comes from decline and deterioration as the organization crumbles. Eventually one will feel so much discomfort they are willing to change and move forward (if itâ€™s not too late to do so).
C.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Complacency
This is the concept that â€œIt really doesnâ€™t matter what we do, God will bless it.â€Â (James 2:14-17; Luke 14:28-32; Rev. 3:15-18)Â Vision stirs up passion within the leader and it comes across as he tells the story.Â Complacency extinguishes this passion within the leader. So the leader just chooses whatever is in front of him at the moment. There is no thought as to how this lines up with the vision and direction of the church, they simply say yes to every suggestion given.
Another form of complacency is apathy. This is where a person says, â€œIt really doesnâ€™t matter what we do; it wonâ€™t work anyway.â€ Perhaps past mistakes or failures have caused this person to be disillusioned and discouraged. But you canâ€™t move forward until this attitude is dealt with.
D.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Short-Term Thinking
Godâ€™s vision for ministry is long-term in nature.Â It may even outlast the person who it was originally given to. Soon after the completion of Disney World someone said, â€œIsnâ€™t it too bad that Walt Disney didnâ€™t live to see this!â€ Mike Vance, creative director of Disney Studios replied, â€œHe did see it â€“ thatâ€™s why itâ€™s here.â€Â If you limit your decisions and planning to only the immediate present, then you can never move past today.
V.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Exercising Vision
The following are some examples that you can think through as a team of leaders or volunteers in a ministry. Divide up or stay together and work through them and discuss what you find.
From the following passages of the Old Testament, what can be learned from these people about how the vision God gave them affected their lives?
Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3, 15:1-7; 17:1-15.Â Why did God state and restate three times the vision He gave Abraham?Â What circumstances and plans in Abrahamâ€™s life were affected and changed by Godâ€™s vision on each occasion?
From the following passages of the Old Testament, what can be learned from these people about how the vision God gave them affected their lives?
Moses in Exodus 3:1-10.Â How much strategic detail did God add to the vision He gave Moses (Ex. 3:11-22; 4:1-17)?
From the following passages of the Old Testament, what can be learned from these people about how the vision God gave them affected their lives?
Joshua in Joshua 1:1-5. How much detail is included in Godâ€™s vision for Joshua about the direction and goals of Godâ€™s plan to lead Israel into the Promised Land?Â How is the additional direction from the Lord in Joshua 1:6-9 related to the vision in 1:1-5?Â How important to the vision was identifying and marshalling resources (Josh. 1:10-15), information gathering (Josh. 2:1, 22-24), and strategic planning (Josh. 3:1-4; 6:1-7)?
Nehemiah in Nehemiah 2:12.Â How did Nehemiah receive a vision form the Lord to rebuild the city of Jerusalem (Neh. 1:3,4; 2:4,5)?
David in 1 Samuel 17:34-37, 45-48.Â What attitudes and qualities did Davidâ€™s vision of Godâ€™s plan for Israel inspire in him (1 Sam. 23:15-18)?Â What attitudes should the vision for ministry God gives you and your church inspire you?
How did Godâ€™s vision for each of the following prophets cause the prophet to change the way he lived and ministered?
- Isaiah 1:1; 6:1-10
- Jeremiah 1:4-19
- Ezekiel 1:1-28l 2:1-10; 3:4-9
Read Proverbs 29:18.Â What does this verse say about why you and your church need Godâ€™s vision for your ministry?
Read Paulâ€™s vision for ministry in Acts 9:15; 26:15-23.Â How did the vision God gave Paul affect the way he lived and ministered (2 Cor. 11:23-28)?
*this is part three of three articles on vision.
Click here to read part one.
Click here to read part two.