Peter Meney, Scripture Meditations

The Lord Jesus has informed His disciples about the soon-to-come destruction of Jerusalem. He has been speaking about this event all along and He now brings His message to its end by giving a parable from a fig tree in springtime and a warning to watchfulness. Just as the witness of nature prepares men and women for the seasons of the year, so the warnings of the Lord inform His followers of danger and open a way of escape from their enemies, sin and death. These experiences would be fulfilled within the lifetime of the present generation and the calamities coming upon the Jewish nation were absolutely certain.

The day and hour unknown

Concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, neither the angels nor the Lord Jesus Himself in His human nature knew the day or the hour it would happen. This hiding of the precise moment was designed to raise attentiveness amongst the Lord’s people and keep them vigilant. It was a lesson for that generation but one designed to elevate watchfulness in every generation by keeping the Lord’s people alert to the promise of the Saviour’s return to judge the world at the end of the age. We look for and hasten unto the coming of the day of God.

It also applies to every individual believer concerning the unknown but appointed time of our own physical passing from this world in death. We do not know the day and hour our earthly life will end and this should keep us looking to Christ. Moses asks in Psalm 90:12, ‘teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom’.

Watch and pray

The Lord’s message to His disciples is given in verse 33, ‘Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is’. For the next thirty-five years these men would carry in…

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The Lord Jesus had been asked by his disciples what signs will precede the destruction of Jerusalem, the desolation of the temple and the overthrow of the Jewish nation. His comments here in Mark 13, and in Matthew 24 and Luke 21, tell the disciples what to look for and expect. Christ’s words were given as timely warnings to prompt His people to flee their homes for safety when the judgments coming on the Jewish nation begin.

Daniel’s prophecy

The ‘abomination of desolation’ of which the Lord speaks is a reference to the book of Daniel and means the Roman armies who would surround, enter and destroy the city. The Saviour warns that when the time comes the enemy will act swiftly with a ferocity unequalled in human history. It would take almost forty years but the wrath of God and judgment of Jesus Christ would be severely visited upon the Jews who slew the Son of God and proudly declared, “His blood be on us, and on our children” (Mat 27:25).

God’s elect people

Three references in these verses to the Lord’s ‘elect’ are particularly notable. First, the Saviour tells His disciples the coming days of terror and destruction will be shortened, or lessened, for the sake of the elect. The meaning is that the complete annihilation of the Jews would not be permitted but would be prevented. A remnant would be saved for the sake of the Lord’s chosen people, either those living at that time or their descendants in generations to come.

False preachers

Second, we are told there will arise men whose claims to be alternative saviours with other ways of salvation and deliverance are so plausible, and their powers so persuasive, as to deceive many, even, says the Lord, if it were possible the very elect of God, the very Bride of Christ. However, it is not possible! The Lord’s chosen will not…

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The Lord, we are told, went out of the temple. He would never again return. It is a solemn thought that the Lord should leave a place of worship never to return. Sacrifices continued to be made but the Lord was not present. Psalms, hymns and prayers continued to be offered but the Lord did not hear. The glory had departed. There is nothing more useless than Christless religion. It is good for nothing but to be cast down and trampled upon. This is what would happen to the temple. Amazing as it might seem to the disciples who admired the grandeur of the edifice, not one stone would be left upon another. The destruction of all false religion and vain, empty worship will be just as complete, be its structures and cathedrals ever so grand.

Lessons then and now

Matthew, Mark and Luke all record the Lord’s words and it is certain the disciples gave attention to the warnings. They would live through and experience personally the matters spoken of here by the Lord. These lessons were important instructions for the Lord’s apostles concerning times ahead and events that would quickly overtake them. However, there are also lessons for us all, enduring lessons for every age concerning the need to be alert to false and deceptive Christs, to take heed to recognise and avoid false doctrine, and the imperative of the Lord’s preserving care for His church.

Signs of the times

The question the disciples asked, and the Lord answered, was what signs would precede the destruction of the temple. Three distinct signs are revealed by the Lord; the…

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All That She Had

2 Aug 2022, by

When the Lord Jesus had finished preaching the crowd of listeners began to disperse. The scribes and Pharisees also withdrew and Jesus, with perhaps His first moment of leisure in the whole day, sat down near the entrance to the temple treasury to rest. There were several chests set out to receive the gifts and offerings of the people and as He sat the Saviour observed the worshippers bringing their gifts.

The what and the why

The people were not miserly and Mark and Luke tell us ‘many that were rich cast in much’. Whether there was a display of showiness about this giving is not explicitly said and there need not have been. The Lord knew the hearts and motives of those He saw and the circumstances of their giving. Let us never forget, nothing is hid from the Lord.

Teaching the disciples

The attention of the Lord was drawn to a ‘certain poor widow’ who came to make an offering. The Lord noted her offering was small in comparison to the amounts contributed by the wealthy men who went before her. She put in two mites, a farthing, or a quarter, a small fraction of the amount given by others. This supplied the

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Greater Damnation

28 Jul 2022, by

The dignity and composure with which the Lord Jesus turns these verbal clashes in the temple to the good of His people is a delight to witness. Every attack on the Lord or His people must bend to the Lord’s glory, contribute to the increase of the church’s happiness, and end in the shame of Christ’s enemies and ours. Mark it down. If you trust in the Lord Jesus Christ you will not be disappointed. That is not to say you will not be tried and tested, you will, but the Lord will always give you more than your enemies can take.

Christ rebuts all attacks

It is still Tuesday of the Passover week. By Friday our Lord will have been arrested, falsely accused, condemned, tortured and crucified. Yet every punch, kick, cut, bruise and piercing inflicted on Him will be but the last gasp rage of a defeated foe. There was yet much to be faced and endured by our Saviour for the redemption of His people, but by Sunday our Lord will have risen from His grave in triumph and power. Let us ‘continue in the faith’, knowing, like our Master, ‘we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God’.

‘What think ye of Christ?’

As the Scribe who questioned the Lord about the…

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A Scribe of the sect of the Pharisees, whom Matthew calls a lawyer, now comes to question the Lord about the law. ‘Which’, he wonders, ‘is the first commandment of all’. His question is more complicated than might first appear. He was not asking about the decalogue, or Moses’ ten commandments, but seeking the Lord’s view as to which of all the laws contained in the scriptures and Jewish oral traditions took greatest priority. There were literally hundreds of possibilities to choose from, all of which were minutely argued over by these Scribes and Pharisees.

Another question to tempt the Lord

Perhaps the Scribe thought to embarrass the Lord by exposing a lack of knowledge of the breadth of the law. Jesus was, after all, a carpenter with no training in the Jewish schools. Even if the Lord could provide an opinion and choose one law, then the ‘lawyer’ surely felt able to engage with Him in trading ideas, and arguing the…

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It is a fearsome thought that the Son of God looked into the faces of a group of devoutly religious men and condemned them saying, ‘ye therefore do greatly err’. They erred in their ignorance of the living God; they erred in rejecting the testimony of scripture concerning resurrection from the dead; they erred by refusing to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ. In our earthly lives we make little mistakes and we make big mistakes, but in matters of eternal life if we do not trust Christ we have erred greatly and the consequences are eternal.

Wise unto salvation

People right now are erring greatly in matters of their soul’s eternal destiny. We worry about jobs, family, health, finance, and many other things, yet are careless for our souls. The preaching of the scriptures, through the faith which is in Christ, makes us wise unto salvation. May God grant us faith, shake us from our sleep of death, rouse us before it is too late, and awaken our souls to everlasting life in Jesus Christ.

The great error of false religion …

There seems to be a censure here particularly aimed by Christ at false religion. These men were Sadducees, a theological school of teachers and students who rivalled the…

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It is likely these Pharisees and Herodians who came tempting Jesus had little in common with each other beyond a desire to ensnare the Saviour in His words, and cause damage to His reputation. Luke calls them ‘spies’ and Matthew and Mark tell us the Lord was not deceived by their overly-reverent greetings but denounced their ‘wickedness’ and ‘hypocrisy’. The Lord’s enemies did not hesitate to make alliances with their rivals to oppose Him, and still today the gospel of grace is attacked by all shades of religion of the freewill and works kind.

Paying taxes

The plan was simple. These two groups were on opposite sides of a thorny political question about paying taxes to Caesar. If Jesus could be tempted to speak against paying taxes to the Roman state the Herodians would accuse Him of rebellion against the government. If, on the other hand, He encouraged paying taxes to…

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Mark says our Lord spoke several parables in the temple but records only this one. It was spoken publicly but directed against the priests and scribes, and they understood it to be so. The parable uses the story of a vineyard owner and his fraudulent and violent tenants. There are historical, current and a future aspects to the Lord’s words. They apply to the ill treatment given by the Jews to the Lord’s prophets in times past. They allude to Jesus’ own death, and point to the subsequent destruction of the Jewish nation.

The key message

As with all the Lord’s parables we take from them the key messages without straining to find a parallel in every detail. The main lesson is the rejection and abuse of the Lord and His people by the Jewish religious leaders. The ‘certain man’ may be likened to God the Father, the ‘vineyard’ to the Jewish nation, the ‘tenants’ to the Jewish religious leaders and the ‘servants’ to prophets sent by God seeking…

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It is two days since the Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem and the day after the cursing of the fig tree. Our Saviour, with His disciples, has returned to the city from their accommodation in Bethany, or somewhere near the Mount of Olives. Jesus is walking with the disciples in the temple precincts and teaching a large group of followers and hearers.

The Jewish Sanhedrim

As the Lord brings His message a delegation arrives from the Jewish Sanhedrim, the main council of religious leaders, comprising ‘the chief priests, and the Scribes, and the elders’. Full of their own self-importance these men do not hesitate to interrupt the Lord as He speaks. This was not a random meeting but an attempt to silence the Saviour by challenging His authority to teach and preach in the temple, and His recent acts of cleansing the temple of those who bought and sold there.

A plan to ‘destroy’ Jesus

There is context here. Remember what Mark told us previously. When the Lord accused the authorities of making ‘his house’ a den of thieves Mark tells us, ‘the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine’. This is the Saviour’s first engagement with the scribes and priests since that occasion and it is part of their plan to ‘destroy’ the Lord.

By whose authority?

The question posed by these men to the Lord Jesus was designed to ensnare Him and publicly humiliate Him. Previously, the Jewish authorities had tried to counter what Jesus was doing and saying. Now they attacked His…

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Our Lord Jesus left us several curious examples of His humanity and divinity in incidents designed to teach lessons to His disciples, a feature we have noted often in our studies in Mark. His cursing of a fig tree is one such. Jesus was hungry and went to a tree looking for food. However, despite an outward show of greenery the fig tree was barren of fruit.

Another object lesson

Speaking to the tree the Lord said, ‘No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever’. The Lord’s words were taken by the disciples as a curse upon the tree and the next day they marvelled to see the tree dried up and withered not only in its green leaves and branches but from its roots. Peter was astonished at the speed of the transformation and said so to Jesus.

A small miracle

The Lord’s response to Peter’s comments show there was a lesson in the miracle and a deeper spiritual significance to the incident than mere food or figs. Perhaps the Lord was…

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As the Lord Jesus approached Jerusalem He was clearly affected by the sight before Him. The city was full of pilgrims attending the feast of Passover. There were three main feasts each year to which Jewish worshippers were expected to travel: the feast of Tabernacles in October, the feast of Passover in April, and the feast of Pentecost in May.

The Feast of Passover

This was Passover and commemorated the nation’s deliverance from Egypt. The population of the city swelled greatly due to visitors from near and far. It was a time of joy and celebration, good for business and full of religious fervour. Yet, feasts were occasions fraught with tension for the Jewish religious and civil leaders, and their Roman overlords. Messianic anticipation ran high, Jesus had the support of the people and there was popular expectation that the restoration of David’s kingdom was imminent. The authorities were on edge.

The Lord’s enemies conspire

Into this situation Jesus now entered. The common people cheered and sang His praises but the Lord’s enemies, provoked by a mix of jealously and fear, were…

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It is five days until the Lord Jesus will be crucified and our Saviour has reached the outskirts of Jerusalem. Here amongst the villages that dotted the approach to the Jews’ ancient capital He pauses and prepares for what will be a prophecy-fulfilling entrance into the city proper. Many years before, Isaiah and Zechariah had glimpsed this moment. The prophets knew by divine revelation that when the King of kings came to Zion, glory and gentleness, majesty and meekness, would characterise His arrival.

Fulfilled prophecy

Anticipating this moment Zechariah had written, ‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass’. Isaiah declared, ‘Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him’.

The coming Messiah

We are reminded that our Lord Jesus Christ did not arrange His actions to fulfil prophecy. That would be to misunderstand the proper order of things. Rather, the prophets of old were…

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The greater our thoughts of the Lord Jesus Christ, the sweeter will be our blessings by Him. The more we see and understand the glory, majesty, and dominion of our Saviour, the richer will be our peace, comfort and confidence in Him in this world and for the world to come. A great Saviour inspires great security and great joy.

Christ the First and Last

Jesus Christ is the Lord of Glory. When John in his vision of Revelation heard the words of the Voice that spoke to him on the Isle of Patmos, he turned to see the Lord Jesus Christ, glorified in the midst of His people, the church. The Lord declared, ‘I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.’

Growing in grace

These were the words of the risen, reigning Christ, and if we grasp what they mean we shall expand our own knowledge of Christ, and enlarge our appreciation of His greatness, glory, power, majesty, holiness, and…

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Have Mercy On Me

15 May 2022, by

I am not sure why we persist in calling Bartimaeus ‘Blind Bartimaeus’. Certainly, Bartimaeus once was blind, but what is much more important is that Jesus healed his blindness and gave him new eyes and instilled a new vision in his soul. Our passage today recounts the wonderful episode on the outskirts of Jericho when the Lord Jesus Christ on His way to Jerusalem to be crucified met Bartimaeus. The encounter changed Bartimaeus forever. I wonder if ‘Perfect-vision Bartimaeus’ might stick?

A blessing for Jericho

Jericho was an ancient walled city, and a cursed city. It was the first city conquered by the Israelites under Joshua when they entered Canaan. Once powerful, it had been destroyed and rebuilt several times. Now it was smaller and less impressive but today it was also blessed with the presence of Jesus Christ. Another conquering Joshua was passing through on His way to His greatest victory, but this time it was men’s souls that were…

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A Ransom For Many

10 May 2022, by

Oh, James! Oh, John! Have you learned nothing from the lessons the Lord has been teaching? Still you think the kingdom of God is temporal. Still you dream of David’s royal throne restored with external glory, earthly grandeur and political power. And, as if this deep rooted error is not enough, you have the audacity to request the positions of greatest honour in your imagined kingdom! You even brought your Mum to plead your case. Really?

Asking amiss

It is little wonder the other disciples were ‘much displeased’ with James and John. But it was not because they were wiser. On the contrary, they wanted those places for themselves. They felt they had as much right to pre-eminence as these presumptuous sons of Zebedee. Jesus had spoken of the disciples being seated on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes. He meant in their role as evangelists and gospel preachers, but fleshy desires heard ‘pomp and circumstance’. It is just a few weeks until the…

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”And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him, saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: and they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.”—Mark 10:32-34

We often remark upon the courage of our Saviour when He faced His own suffering and death. This little passage reminds us again how that the Lord knew exactly what awaited Him at the hands of His enemies in Jerusalem. Yet He hastened to His destiny, describing the agonies that lay ahead with words like ‘mock’ and ‘scourge’ and ‘spit’ and ‘kill’. He knew beforehand all He would endure; the hatred and rejection of His own countrymen, and the fierce cruelty of Roman crucifixion.

‘Awake, O sword’!

But that was only the start. Against God’s Shepherd the sword of divine judgment would also awake. He who knew no sin would become sin for His people, a unique, soul crushing experience in itself, unknown to any other. Then the cup of God’s wrath against the sin of all His elect, full, briming and fervent, would be poured entirely into…

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We have here an account of the Rich Young Ruler coming to Jesus. He came not as a little child might come, and as the Lord requires, but with all the pride and presumption of a natural, self-righteous man. His meeting with the Lord is recounted by Matthew, Mark and Luke. In addition to a very interesting dialogue between the Lord and the young man, the conversation proves a great puzzle for the Lord’s disciples regarding the nature of salvation. It becomes another lesson in their understanding of the gospel of free and sovereign grace.

Running to Jesus

This nameless young man ran to the Lord eagerly. Evidently, he had heard about Jesus and did not want to miss the opportunity of speaking to Him. In every way this man appears to be sincere and thoughtful. He was polite and respectful and brought a question that spoke of more serious considerations than the usual chicanery of the Pharisees.

An important question!

When the young man met Jesus, the Saviour was on the road to Jerusalem. The nature of his approach and the urgency of his question suggests he had come prepared for his brief encounter with the Lord. He asked, “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” This question reveals a lot about the…

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In His Arms

18 Apr 2022, by

Those who brought their children to Jesus did so purposefully. Most likely it was for healing that they came to Him, or it could be they sought the Master’s touch of blessing upon their little ones for their future wellbeing. Perhaps, if they were believers, they came hoping their child too might receive a spiritual work of grace in their souls. Whatever the reason, the encounter would be filled with wonder and excitement for the little ones involved.

Interceding for others

Many came seeking personal help from the Lord Jesus Christ but a quick reflection on the gospel accounts of Jesus’ ministry reveals that just as frequently it was other people who brought the needy to Christ for healing. This is a powerful lesson and a great encouragement for us to intercede for others and endeavour to bring others under the sound of Christ’s voice, and the touch of His hand, in the gospel.

The privilege of parents

I am sure we can identify with the desire of these parents to share the Lord’s goodness and mercy with their children. We have many examples in Scripture of both mothers and fathers bringing their…

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These Pharisees who came to the Lord Jesus with questions did not come looking for answers or seeking wisdom. They came tempting Him. These enemies of our Saviour designed their questions to trick, embarrass and divide. They made a god of their legalism and logic, and picked through the wreckage of broken lives like a pack of hungry dogs.

What about divorce?

Their question on divorce is an example. The Lord had come into the coasts of Judaea, bringing good news to sinners, teaching and preaching the gospel, and, Matthew tells us, healing the sick. The Pharisees callously interrupted all this with their intrusion. How often religion gets in the way of the gospel! We thank the Lord for promptly dismissing these men with an answer that has blessed the church of God ever since. An answer that teaches us of sovereign love, divine mercy, and persevering grace.

God hates putting away

These schoolmen argued about what reasons justified putting away one’s wife in divorce but the Lord cut through their arguments by pointing to their own sin and cruelty. God hates divorce. He never intended marital separation and it was condoned through Moses only because of the…

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Hell Fire

4 Apr 2022, by

There can scarcely be a believer who does not shudder and recoil at the awfulness of the Bible’s language about hell. As wonderful as heaven appears to the child of God, the dreadfulness of hell and divine punishment is fearful. Those of us with unbelieving loved ones hardly know what to think. In humble acceptance we can only say, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

Why no fear?

Have you ever wondered why believers who will never be in hell and never endure hell’s horrors nevertheless fear hell more than those who are careering carelessly into it? It is not an accident. Our dread is a divine lesson to enlarge and enrich our appreciation of the greatness of our salvation. Believers find hell dreadful not only because it is dreadful but because it measures the infinite wickedness of sin and demonstrates the wrath, fury and hatred of God against it.

Our Sin-bearer

Having seen our own sin punished in our Substitute and having beheld Christ subject to God’s wrath, believers understand a little better both the misery of hell and the magnificence of heaven. We understand the…

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Many years ago I heard a quip which has stayed with me, it went, ‘There are two kinds of people in this world, those who think there are two kinds of people in this world, and the rest of us who live in the real world’. This little witticism helped me step back from always seeing the issues of life in black and white.

A divine distinction

However, we shall not be able to get away from this stark implication in our verses today. We shall see that in at least one very important aspect there are but two kinds of people in this world. There are the righteous and the wicked and the word of God draws an absolute distinction between the two. There are those who stand perfectly justified in God’s sight, pure and holy in Christ, and those who do not. You either belong to Christ or you do not.

A separated people

This division is found in many of the Lord’s lessons; the good seed and the tares, the sheep and the goats, the wise virgins and the foolish virgins, those who build upon solid ground and those who build on sand, the children within the kingdom of God and those who are without. The difference in every case arises from…

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Afraid To Ask

22 Mar 2022, by

‘Afraid To Ask’

In our studies in Mark’s gospel we have paid attention to the care the Lord took to teach and prepare His disciples for their apostolic ministry. We have noticed how the Lord’s lessons were not always received and understood, and sometimes had to be repeated. This is one of those occasions. Let us not be too critical of the disciples. Often the Lord has to repeat our lessons, too.

Christ’s death is the heart of the gospel

The looming suffering and death of the Saviour must be raised again. We note how for His disciples’ comfort the Lord includes mention of His resurrection in all talk of His death. Yet, Christ’s death is the big subject that must be faced. This is still true. Whatever our religion we must deal with the fact that God, in the person of Jesus Christ, came to earth, suffered and died. The substitutionary death of Christ is the heart of the gospel.

Turning to Jerusalem

The Lord is turning His attention and His feet to Jerusalem. His arrest being imminent and certain is represented as if it is already done. He will be…

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Help Thou Mine Unbelief

We have before us a return to our Saviour’s ministry of miraculous healing by casting out a demon or ‘foul spirit’. This act is itself wonderful yet there is much, too, in the additional information given to teach and encourage our hearts. As the Lord returns with Peter, James and John from the mount of transfiguration He encounters a boisterous crowd of people and a group of scribes mocking His disciples for their inability to cure a sick child.

Jesus comes to His disciples’ aid

We should not ignore the readiness of the Lord to defend His own. Often the Lord’s opponents attacked His disciples seeing them as an easier target. This still happens today when religious opponents make sport of the Lord’s little ones because of their weakness and faults. Such attacks often come as opposition to the gospel of free grace and are designed to embarrass the…

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We mentioned a few weeks ago how the Lord Jesus having brought His disciples to a knowledge and confession of His Divine person now opened to them the true purpose for His coming into the world; the suffering He must endure, His rising again from the dead and ascension into glory. All these things would confirm the Saviour’s success in His atoning work, and the redemption of His people, here called, “the kingdom of God come with power”. Nor would there be long to wait as these events were not far off, but would be seen within the immediate lifetime of most of those gathered here with the Lord.

The disciples’ preparation continues

Yet there were other lessons to learn, more revelation was to be given and preparation made for apostolic ministry. The Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus Christ witnessed by Peter, James and John would bring a new perspective to the understanding of these men and equip them for days to come. Only three disciples were…

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These few questions from the Lord Jesus to His disciples and the group who followed Him are surely amongst the most important and significant questions ever posed to men and women. The Lord asks, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Again, He asks, “Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” What possible answer can we make?

What it means to lose our soul

Our soul is most precious. It is more precious than all the world because scripture tells us heaven and earth will pass away but our soul will not pass away. That is because souls are immortal and everlasting. To lose our soul is to be separated from God eternally, it is to be judged and damned to remain everlastingly in hell’s torments and misery. To lose our soul is to continually feel the biting worm of conscience that never dies, and the fierceness of the fire of God’s wrath, that never will be quenched. God save us from losing our soul!

A kingdom not of this world

In this passage our Lord is speaking to men and women who literally have followed Him from Galilee to the…

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”And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.”—Mark 8:31-33

It seems the consensus of the disciples concerning the Saviour’s true identity as Messiah, or Christ, the Anointed One, supplied an occasion for the Lord to speak clearly for the first time about His suffering, death and resurrection. But Peter is not happy. He presumes to rebuke the Lord for this declaration, and the Lord replies to His friend sharply, rebuking in turn the very one who recently was called ‘blessed’ of God for the gospel revelations given to him. This forms the substance of our thoughts in this week’s sermon.

‘For this cause came I’

This short passage reveals much to us about the Lord’s commitment and dedication to the work of our salvation. How He loved us! How eagerly He anticipated His own suffering and death for the glory that should follow. Our Saviour came into the world to take our place, be our Substitute, shed His blood…

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We now begin a very important period in the Lord’s ministry and His dealings with His disciples. The education of these men was not yet complete but it was progressing rapidly. They had heard the Lord’s doctrine and received private explanation of His parables. They had witnessed many, many wonderful miracles, proving the power and authority of the Lord Jesus upon the bodies of men and women, and signifying spiritual parallels for Gospel healing in people’s souls. Now the Lord called for an expression of the disciples’ faith in Him and a personal testimony from them as to His true identity.

Two questions

We remind ourselves the Lord’s enquiries are never to gain knowledge for Himself but intended to draw a suitable response from those questioned. So here. The Lord’s first question set the scene for His second and prompted confession of His true identity by Peter on behalf of himself and the other disciples. In truth, it is of…

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He cometh

Let us notice the inclusion of the little introductory phrases in Mark’s accounts of the travels of the Lord, ‘And he cometh to Bethsaida’. It is a big mistake to think the important part of this phrase is the location. Rather the important part is that the Lord Jesus Christ came. He puts Himself in the path of the needy. He knows and goes to where His people are. Had not the Lord Jesus come to Bethsaida the poor blind man upon whom that day the Saviour’s hand rested would have remained in his sorry state all his life. But Jesus came, He visited, and when He did He brought healing power with Him.

I will come to you

Visits from the Lord Jesus are blessings to His people. The Saviour visited Abraham at Mamre, spoke with Jacob at Penuel, comforted Joseph in Potiphar’s prison and met Moses in the backside of the desert. Throughout the Old Testament we have previews of Christ’s incarnation by personal, physical and bodily visits with His covenant people. Then, in the fulness…

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The history of the church in the Old Testament supplies many lessons and examples for believers of every age. The spiritual troubles we have today have changed little from the experiences of men and women in days long gone. The principal reason for this is that our hearts and natures are the same and the wages of sin have not altered. The men and women of Israel sinned against God in the matter of the idolatrous golden calf. It was a great and flagrant sin which Moses confessed before the Lord. He called it making ‘gods of gold’.

Gods of gold

We, too, make ‘gods of gold’ when we take our eyes from the Lord Jesus Christ and allow them to settle upon something else, anything else, as a source of comfort and confidence in this world. I doubt very much any of us have ever literally fashioned an idol of whatever material and bowed down to it, but we constantly build around ourselves the securities of this world and in our…

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