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Topical - The Things Jesus Knew, pt1-3(Mark)

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The Things That Jesus Knew, Part I - VIII

The Use of Omniscience by Jesus in the Gospel of Mark

 January 23, 2000

Introduction:

          The inspiration for this topic came to me as a result of an article in the November 20, 1999, issue of WORLD magazine, page 27, entitled Marketing Heresy.

It calls into question the proposed action by Baker Book House, a before now traditionally conservative evangelical publisher, to publish a book by Gregory A. Boyd entitled, God of the Possible, whose idea is, "A Biblical Introduction to the Open View of God".

This view basically holds "that God cannot know the future because we humans create the reality of our decisions by making them, and until we make them they don't exist."

This view, called open theism, attempts to shrink God and seriously undermines the truth of God's sovereignty. Mr. Boyd is a theology professor at Bethel College and senior pastor at Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, MN (Baptist General Conference).

          I want to respond to this grossly erroneous view of God by looking at the things that Jesus knew, the use of omniscience by Jesus in the gospel of Mark.

It is my hope that much can be learned from such a study in the way that Mark portrays Jesus and his mission as God among men through his omniscience.

Anyone calling themselves a Christian must surely believe in the deity of Christ. As God, then, we will see that Jesus certainly makes use of the omniscient prerogative of God in his ministry.

In other words, if the omniscience of God is to be proven, it must surely be proven in the most personal experience of man with God as seen in the ministry of Jesus.

"God knows all things (1John 3:20).

Jesus has this attribute of deity also, for Peter says, 'Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you' (John 21:17).

God knows all inward thoughts and outward acts of humanity (Ps. 139).

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the one to whom we must give account (Heb. 4:13).

As omniscient, God's judgments are formed in the awareness of all the relevant data.

God knows everything that bears upon the truth concerning any person or event.

And Jesus is the primary expression of God's omniscience. We shall see that he himself is omniscient in many interesting and unique ways throughout his ministry.

Of course, there were many times that Jesus chose not to exercise his godly prerogatives. But that could be the subject of another study on the humanity of Jesus.

We must never forget that he was fully both man and God (Mk. 15:39).

Some of his statements were immediately proven true and many will yet be proven true. But all his statements will continually be proven true as they bear proof of who he is through time and eternity.

And he will come again to disprove all who doubt

In these instances of omniscience, I have tried to stay away from those situations that were not clearly advance knowledge by Jesus that were proven later to be true.

In Mark 1:17, Jesus gives a command to the disciples to follow him in order that he might make them fishers of men. Jesus did make them fishers of men, but it could be argued that it was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In Mark 10:52, it could be argued that it is an act of omniscience to perform a miracle since it comes immediately true as Jesus knew it would, but it could be discounted as more of an application of power.

I also tried to stay away from those instances where it could be argued that the surrounding circumstances imply the main thrust of what could be called omniscience, like Mark 10:15, where the experience with the people and the nature of the question implies hypocrisy and entrapment, or in Mark 10:43-44 where it could be as good a guess as any that the poor widow put in all that she had.

In another sense, it is also apparent that Jesus knew what he didn't know, such as the day or hour of his return (13:32), which lends to his credibility.

Illustrations:

Mystery is but another name for our ignorance; if we were omniscient, all would be perfectly plain.

   Tryon Edwards (1809-1894)

God asks us to be holy, not omniscient.

   -- Erik Johnson, Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 1.

When we come to God and say, "I love you, and I'm prepared to do your will whatever you want me to do," we can be sure that God is not going to make us miserable. Rather he rejoices and fits our lives into his pattern for us, into that place where he, in his omniscience and love, knows we will fit hand in glove. The one who is our Creator, who made us, who knows better than we will ever know ourselves, is the one we are talking to. He knows the end from the beginning.

   -- Paul E. Little, in Great Sermons from the 20th Century. Christian Reader, Vol. 26, no. 1.

What can escape the eye of God, all seeing, Or deceive his heart, omniscient?

   John Milton (1608-1674)

James Denney wrote, "The important thing in religion is not to believe that God is omniscient but to experience that God knows me. The important thing is not that God is everywhere but that wherever I am, God is with me."

   -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).

"God knows me" is different from "God is omniscient"; the latter is a mere theological statement; the former is a child of God's most precious possession.

   Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)

Dr. James M. Gray, former president of the Moody Bible Institute, was convalescing from a severe illness. His physician, thinking that a change of scenery might bring the relaxation his patient needed, advised him to take an ocean voyage. But just when arrangements for the journey were completed, Dr. Gray experienced an unexpected physical setback. He was greatly disappointed and began to wonder why the heavenly Father had allowed this new affliction to come. About a week later, he picked up a newspaper that carried on the front page the tragic account of a steamer that had sunk after striking a reef in St. John's harbor. There were no survivors. When Gray read that this was the ship he would have taken, he realized how perfectly the Lord had directed his way. His temporary sickness had delivered him from certain death.

I.       Knowledge of People's Inner Thoughts and Attitudes

          A.      His Opponents

1.       Jesus Heals a Paralytic (2:5-12)

         

The first recorded instance of obvious omniscience in Mark's gospel had to do with the thoughts and attitudes of Jesus' opponents. The text clearly says that the teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves. And it goes on to say that he immediately knew in his spirit what was in their hearts. He went on to expose them. He healed the man by forgiving his sins and sent him on his way. The issue of confrontation had to do with whether Jesus was blaspheming by pre-empting God's right to forgive sins. But the visible evidence of the paralytic's ability to walk after his forgiveness proved Jesus' right to forgive sins.

But note that this was exactly the point Jesus wanted to make when he said, "son, your sins are forgiven," when those thoughts then occurred in his opponents hearts. He knew those thoughts would occur because of his action even before he took that action. He took this action because he knew their hearts and wanted to teach them that he did in fact have the power to forgive sins. He was not just guessing. This was early enough in his healing ministry for him to not yet have experienced a great deal of opposition to it. In fact, his healing ministry was eminently popular. And this healing was not on a Sabbath to stir that controversy.

As God, he knew that those who served God would have the hardest time accepting his incarnation. We might assume that the reason for this was because those who consider themselves experts don't readily accept the expertise of anyone who does not fit their preconceived opinion. After all, they are the experts so they think, and nobody consulted them. Their self-presumption needed a wake-up call. The best way for Jesus to teach his authority and expertise was to boldly apply it. Bold truth has a way of exposing the condition of the heart.

Jesus already knows the condition of our hearts, and he takes action to let us know what he knows. What will we then do with it? Will our hardness crack or become harder still? This healing from sin exposed more than the sin of the paralytic. His was the easier case. He came to Jesus with a prepared heart of faith. It seems that faith always has its opponents. But Jesus knows where they live. He knows their hearts. He knows their need of faith.

Now I believe it is OK to question God. He is big enough to take it and stand our questioning. But when he gives the answer we must receive it. I wonder whether these who questioned his right to forgive sins ever softened? Is there anyone whom you feel has no right to forgiveness – or obligation to seek it for that matter? How about yourself? Perhaps these who questioned should have been concerned about their own sins. This is what Jesus' manner of healing the paralytic was all about - because he knew their hearts. And he knows ours, which brings us to -----

          B.      His Disciples

1.       The Yeast of the Pharisees and Herod (8:14-21)

          It was not only the inner thoughts and attitudes of his opponents that Jesus knew. Mark records comparatively more instances of Jesus knowing the hearts of his disciples. This can be understood by the logical presumption that it is the hearts of those who are receptive to his teaching that he is most intimately involved with. So it is here after the feeding of the 4,000 and the lesson the disciples should have learned from that miraculous multiplication. The issue is prompted by the testing of the Pharisees toward Jesus and his remark to the disciples to beware of "the yeast of the Pharisees." They had forgotten to bring more bread along with them in the boat, and they thought Jesus was upset about it as they talked among themselves.

          Now it says that Jesus was aware of their discussion. It could be argued that he had overheard them. But one thing is clear regarding his omniscience in this case. He knew their heart need in advance even as he knew the need of the teachers of the law. I believe this is why he made his statement about the yeast. It doesn't seem to fit the context and this is precisely what confuses the disciples as they talk among themselves. Jesus knew they had not fully grasped the teaching of what he did to feed the 4,000 and even the 5,000 before that. So he used the test by the Pharisees to cause his disciples to think further. He wanted them to understand that as long as they were with him, it didn't matter how much bread they brought. All they had to do was to trust him for it. The issue this time wasn't his opponents, it was the disciples themselves. He knows where they live too because he knows their hearts and their need. But at least they have chosen to follow Jesus in having that need met as they grow in faith. And they are the ones that will ultimately and eternally live with him as Jesus completes his work in them by knowing their hearts.

2.       Who Is the Greatest? (9:33-41)

          Jesus not only knows our dullness in faith, he knows our sharpness in jealousy. He asks the disciples what they were arguing about on the road but they were afraid to tell him they were arguing about which of them was the greatest. Since he already knew what they were arguing about, he called them to himself and began to teach them about their problem by showing them the example of a child who has no presumption of greatness in the company of adults. Neither were the disciples to have any presumptions of greatness in the company of Jesus.

          But note that the omniscience of Jesus is displayed once again by the event that John's conscience has been stirred to bring up. It seems obvious that Jesus knew this issue was behind the scenes of their own arguing. The comparative greatness of others caused them to argue about their own. They saw a man doing their work of casting out demons in Jesus' name who was not one of them and they tried to stop him.

Jesus continues to use the example of children in teaching the disciples that they are part of a broad family of faith, all of whom are precious to him. None should ever be sinned against by any form of rejection. He not only knows our heart of need, he knows our heart of sin. He taught that we must not lose the saltiness of our conviction about sin in presuming any greatness upon ourselves which in essence rejects others.

3.       The Lord's Supper (14:18-21)

          Perhaps the most serious inquisition of all is the omniscient eyes of the Lord upon the hearts of those who claim to be his disciples but are not. They can fool some of the people some of the time, perhaps all the people all the time, and they can even fool themselves, but they can never fool God who looks upon the heart. In the intimate setting of the Passover meal, Jesus tells them all that one of them will betray him.

Certainly he knows which one since we have the previous account in 14:10-11 of Judas Iscariot leaving the scene in order to betray him after the woman anointed Jesus with expensive perfume. But this is an editorial comment inserted by Mark due to later knowledge. This can be seen from the fact that one by one at the supper, each of the disciples denies that it could be them. Jesus knew that Judas had sold him out. But he also purposely did not expose Judas because the destiny of the cross must be fulfilled. The other disciples would have stopped Judas if they knew. And his rhetorical question was designed for us all as we are compelled to search our own hearts for possible areas of betrayal. We must search our own hearts because Jesus knows them anyway.

II.      Knowledge of People's Personal Situations and Needs

          A.      His Disciples

1.       Jesus Walks on the Water (6:45-52)

                   Immediately after the feeding of the 5,000 Jesus makes his disciples get in a boat and cross the lake while he stays behind to dismiss the crowd. Then he went up on a mountainside to pray – something he had intended to do earlier except that the crowds followed him, which had led to the feeding of the 5,000 after he had spent all day teaching them. His comment to the disciples, "You give them something to eat," had confused them. Even after Jesus multiplied the bread and fish on hand they were still confused. He wanted them to learn how to apply faith in his power to provide. He would provide them several different opportunities to learn this lesson (6:51; 8:4; 8:14-21). This situation in the boat would be the next opportunity.

          Alone in the middle of the lake at night, the disciples strain at the oars in a high wind. Jesus saw and knew their situation through dark and distance. In fact, he allowed this to happen. They must learn that he is always there, knows their situation, and will meet their need if they just ask. He walks out near them on the water and is about to pass by. Now if you think someone is supposed to care about you, that would seem a strange thing to do – to just walk on by or at least seem like it. This purposeful action forces them to call out to him, exactly what he wants them to learn how to do, whether in need of bread - or in need of bravery. (Little Miguel) He gets in the boat, tells them to take courage, and calms the wind. But they are still slow to understand this because of the bread. They needed just to ask him. Jesus already sees our need. We need to see his response. He is only a prayer (or a phone call) away.

          B.      His Acquaintances

1.       The Rich Young Man (10:17-23)

          There are those who become disciples and there are those who come so close. This rich young man was one of them and Jesus knew his need. On his knees before Jesus, he had the appearance of righteousness and calls Jesus, "Good Teacher." And he asks Jesus what he must "do" to inherit eternal life. Jesus begins immediately by drawing his attention to his real need. It wasn't something he needed to do, it was something different he needed to worship. It was that he needed a Savior. The implication of Jesus' answer was that only God is good and that Jesus is God. The man needed to understand whom he was addressing as the answer to his question.

 But Jesus goes on to explain his knowledge of the man's life which the man affirms. He has kept all the commands that have to do with relationships with others. These things are noble but they are not saving. Notably, Jesus loved him for his genuineness. And lovingly, Jesus identifies what he lacks. He lacks obedience to the first commandment which is to "have no other gods before me." His god is his money. Jesus offers him advice on how to let go of it in favor of a greater treasure. But for now, the man's vice is affirmed as deep as his heart and soul. His countenance falls, and Jesus makes his pronouncement that it is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. Jesus knows our greatest need. It is himself. And he knows what he has to compete with. He has to compete with us. That is the difference between a disciple and an acquaintance. The disciple acknowledges Jesus' rightful ownership of his life as he grows in faith. The acquaintance is still considering whether it is worth it.    

III.    Knowledge of Miraculous Action Already Taken

          A.      Immediate Revelation

1.       Jesus Heals a Sick Woman (5:24-34)

          The miracles that Jesus performed were both immediate and delayed in their ultimate action. It would seem obvious to the believer that a miracle of purposeful touch or pronouncement in healing is omniscient since it was performed with a view toward its occurrence and if in fact it did occur. Jesus did it because he knew he could do it. But the unbeliever could argue that it was merely an application of power without prior knowledge.

This miracle here of the sick woman who was healed by touching Jesus' cloak in the crowd is an valid example of omniscience in the immediate since Jesus immediately knew that power had gone out from him. It was not a miracle of open discourse and intent but Jesus knew it happened. It might seem that he was not using his omniscience, however, since he asked who it was that touched him. But even the disciples were amazed that he knew someone touched him. But the purpose of his asking was also another example of omniscience since he knew the woman needed spiritual healing (to go in peace) as well as physical healing. She needed to present herself to Jesus for the completion of her faith that led her to touch him. Jesus knows the immediacy of even our secret needs and fulfills them according to our faith.

          B.      Delayed Revelation

1.       Jesus Raises a Dead Girl (5:35-42)  

          Of obvious omniscience are those miracles performed by the pronouncement of Jesus over time and distance. The synagogue ruler was told that the daughter he came to ask Jesus to heal had already died. Jesus told him just to believe as they went on the way to his house. When he got there he asked them why all the wailing of death? He said the child was not dead but asleep. He said this because he knew he had already given life to the child. They were so certain the child was dead they laughed at him, but he went in and told her to get up. Not even our death can separate us from his knowledge of our life – if we just believe.

2.       The Faith of a Syrophoenician Woman (7:24-30)

          A Gentile woman came to Jesus in the house where he was staying and requested him to cast the demon out of her daughter. After Jesus tested her faith he pronounced the demon gone. She went home and found it to be true. In this case, Jesus never even had physical proximity to the child or the demon but knew his accomplishment according to the woman's faith. He tested her faith because he knew she needed to acknowledge the depth of his favor toward her as a Gentile. She responded by calling him "Lord." His knowledgeable testing of our faith in response to his lordship also produces the fruit of it.

IV.    Knowledge of Miraculous Action about to be Taken

 

          A.      Restorative

1.       The Healing of a Boy with an Evil Spirit (9:17-29)

          This instance of Jesus' advance knowledge of miraculous healing is not so obvious. But there is an example here of omniscience in Jesus' response to the man with the demonized son when he said, "But if you can do anything take pity on us and help us." Jesus questioned him on his statement and then said, "Everything is possible for him who believes." The man asked for help with his unbelief and Jesus casts the deaf and mute spirit out of the boy. Jesus knew what he was about to do in response to faith. He also knows what he will do in response to ours.

 

B.      Creative

1.       Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand (6:30-44)  

          Here we have a miracle of a different type. Instead of healing or cleansing, it is creative. Jesus asks the disciples to respond to their own sense of responsibility to feed the crowd that had gathered for his teaching. They can't imagine purchasing that much bread. So Jesus tells them to go find what they have. They return with five loaves and two fish. Now Jesus could create something out of nothing, but he doesn't do that. He multiplies what they have, and that is still creative. But he knows he is going to do that. That is why he asks for what they had, and that is the lesson he intends to impart. He knows what we need in relation to what we have. If we devote what we have to him, he will see that it is enough, even more than enough because they picked up twelve baskets of leftovers.

2.       Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand (8:2-13)

          This miracle is a replay of the previous except that the crowd is 4,000 and they have been with Jesus for three days. This time the incentive of compassion comes initially from Jesus and he poses the question to the disciples about how to handle their hunger. They are clueless so he asks them again how many loaves they can find. They come up with seven loaves and a few fish which he multiplies with seven baskets leftover. Again, he asks for what they have, knowing that he will recreate sufficiency from it. He also knows when to prompt a retake on a lesson he is trying to teach us – that he himself is all we need.

          C.      Destructive

1.       The Withered Fig Tree (11:12-14, 20-21)

          Not all miracles heal, cleanse or create. Just like providence can be either positive or negative to teach those who would see God according to their particular need, here we have a negative miracle to prove a particular point. Jesus notices a fig tree in leaf (alive) and went to it (as he was then going to Jerusalem) but did not find the fruit that one would expect (like he would experience in Jerusalem). He cursed the tree and his disciples heard it. The next day they found the tree withered from the roots (entirely dead). Jesus knew and intended this effect of his curse for that generation and all those yet to come until he comes again. In 13:28-29 he amplifies the lesson from the fig tree that when it again bears leaves (comes to life – Jerusalem re-inhabited by Jews), his return is imminent. His advance knowledge of its withering in one day is also advance knowledge of its restoration nearly 2,000 years later. We must bear the fruit of faith in him and his return lest we also wither and die from the curse of faithlessness. And he went on to explain that faith in God leads to forgiveness and answered prayer.

V.      Knowledge of Personal Destiny

          A.      His Coming Death and Resurrection

1.       Jesus Begins to Teach His Disciples about His Death (8:31-33)      

          None of us can predict the details of our destiny beyond what we broadly know of our eternal destiny in Christ. But Jesus did know the details of his destiny as the Christ, the Savior of mankind. This was all prophesied in Scripture, but Jesus knew he would be the fulfillment of it. In this first of several passages about it in Mark, Jesus began to teach his disciples that he would suffer many things, be rejected by the religious leaders, be killed, and rise again after three days. If all this proved to be true, then Jesus certainly is omniscient, especially about the fact of his resurrection which no man had ever yet experienced. This passage says he spoke plainly about all this – it was not veiled, there could be no mistake.

          Jesus' teaching about this immediately follows Peter's confession that Jesus is the Christ, so Jesus went on to teach what being the Christ is all about. But Peter had trouble accepting it and Jesus rebuked him. The question remains for us today whether we can accept it, even after the fact. And the passage tells us who it is that interferes with our acceptance of it – Satan. If Jesus knew his own destiny as the Christ, he certainly knows ours by faith in the Christ, and he knows how to rebuke the enemy of our faith.

Jesus went on in verse 34ff to explain that the practical application of that faith would be for a disciple to deny himself and take up his cross and follow him. In saying this he also knew the manner of his death upon a cross, and he explained the purpose of his death as not for himself but for his disciples who would have eternal life by faith in him and what he accomplished by his death and resurrection. So it is clear that Jesus also knows the destiny of his followers.

2.       Jesus Continues to Teach His Disciples about His Death (9:31)

          Considering how difficult it was even for his own confessing disciple (Peter) to accept his destiny as Savior, Jesus would have to teach it more than once. So he repeated that the Son of Man would be betrayed into the hands of men who would kill him, but after three days he would rise. He had purposefully taken his disciples off alone without the possibility of any interference to teach them this. But the disciples still did not understand. They could not conceive of such a thing. They were even afraid to ask him more about what he meant. Perhaps they were afraid of knowing what it meant because the next event in Mark's gospel is the account of the disciples' argument about who is the greatest. They obviously did not understand his message to them about his own sacrifice for them because they fail to have a sacrificial attitude toward each other. Jesus patiently teaches us about our need of him because he knows how much patience we need.

3.       Jesus Again Predicts His Death (10:32-40)

          From 8:31 onward, Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem to complete his passion. His disciples must understand this so they will not fall away when it happens. The disciples and those who followed were astonished and afraid as Jesus led the way to Jerusalem. So he took them aside once more to tell them what was going to happen to him there. He was going to be betrayed into the hands of the religious leaders who would condemn him to death and hand him over to the Gentiles who would mock him and kill him, but three days later he would rise.

Each time he teaches them it seems they don't really get it. First it was Peter who couldn't accept it, and then after the next time they were all arguing about who was the greatest. This time it is James and John who now ask to sit on his right and left in his glory. They want the glory but they have not understood the way of the cross to get there. But Jesus knows that they will indeed understand it as certainly as he knows it will take place. His patient understanding of them will bear the fruit of their understanding and obedience.

4.       Jesus Predicts His Death as Imminent (14:25)    

          The Passover meal has now been celebrated and it is the final picture of his death on the night before the cross. They have shared the bread and the cup which Jesus compares to his body and his blood sacrificed upon the cross as the basis for a new covenant. He knows that he is to be the sacrificial lamb tomorrow as he says he will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until he drinks it anew in the kingdom of God. Jesus knew his purpose and its fulfillment. And he knew it would be for us because he said that the blood of the covenant would be poured out for many.

          B.      Witnesses to His Death and Resurrection

1.       Some who were Standing There (9:1)

          After Jesus taught his disciples the first time clearly about his death and resurrection in 8:31 we get another glimpse of his omniscience. By this time he had called the crowd to himself, along with his disciples who were already with him, as he taught them about the cross and what it meant. And he told them that some who were standing there would not taste death before they saw the kingdom of God come in power. He knew how close the event of the cross was and what it would mean concerning the availability of the kingdom of God and its power for them. Not only would some not die before it came, but because it would come, some would never taste eternal death. The coming of the kingdom of God comes with the cross. Jesus was so certain of the event that he could proclaim witnesses to it. They would witness the truth of his death and resurrection. And the next event told in Mark's gospel is the prefiguration of that certain glory through the cross.

          C.      The Purpose for His Death and Resurrection

1.       The Will of God (8:33) 

Jesus said his death would be the will of God not to be deterred by man or Satan. One could argue that Peter is trying to keep Jesus from what he thinks is discouragement, but it is more than that. Jesus knew it was Satan behind Peter's effort to dissuade him from the cross. But why would Satan try to dissuade Jesus from the cross when he seemed to be so involved in it? Satan, through men, had been trying to put Jesus to death from the beginning (Herod). Did Satan not believe that Jesus could rise from the dead? How could that be if he tried to keep him from the cross? It seems Satan was both trying to kill Jesus and to prevent the cross. It was the entanglement of evil, the classic double-bind, as the pressure was on Jesus to use other means to establish his kingship and avoid the suffering of the cross. It was this same thing that Satan tried to force through Judas.

The temptation Satan was giving Jesus through Peter was the same temptation he gave in the wilderness at the beginning of Jesus' ministry. He was trying to get Jesus to act outside the will of God the Father in setting up his kingdom. If he could be successful in this, he would be able to thwart the success of Christ's kingdom that the will of God desired to be founded on spiritual truth rather than worldly power. The cross was God's plan according to God's eternal

purpose. Jesus knew that purpose and his single-minded devotion to it for us.

2.       The Ransom for Man (10:45)

          In this verse, Jesus further explains the will of God for himself and for believers. It is that he be used according to the will of God for us. Jesus, before the cross, came as a servant to bear our sins to ransom us from eternal death. The next account of blind Bartimaeus shows that we see this mercy of God by calling on Jesus by faith. Then his triumphal entry into our lives is a reality. Jesus clearly knew the purpose of his life as a ransom for sin in service to God and man to reunite what sin had broken. Do we know our purpose this clearly in service to him? Those who have been ransomed owe it all.

VI.    Knowledge of Future Ministry

          A.      The Ministry of His Disciples

1.       Sharing the Cup (10:35-40)    

Jesus knows our own destiny in ministry through him as well as he knows his own destiny in ministry to us. The will of God is active in each life but we cannot presume upon it. James and John are hung up with places of honor at either side of Jesus in the eternal kingdom. Jesus tells them that they do not really know what lies ahead, but he does know. He tells them that they cannot bear what he is about to bear for them. He will be baptized with suffering for the sins of all mankind – a death for sin. But they indeed will suffer also for him in his name. They will share his cup and his baptism – but of a death to sin. They would not be the ones to die for men's sin but they would carry their own cross of death to self in ministry. James would be martyred but John would not. Jesus knows the extent that each disciple will suffer in ministry, but it pales in comparison to his suffering for us. And any glory for us is incomparable to his.

          B.      The Ministry of the Gospel

                   1.       The Completion of the Gospel Witness (13:10)

          Here Jesus proclaims that he will not return until the gospel is preached to all nations. We have a part in completing events for his return by our obedience to the great commission (c.f. 2Pet. 3:12). If he has promised his return, then he has promised our part in completing the events necessary for it. He knows we will be successful by our dependence upon his strength and purpose.

2.       The Eternal Words of Christ (13:30-31)

          This simple but profound verse tells us that all material things like the heavens and the earth are temporary, but that the spiritual truth of God and those who believe it will remain for eternity. The words of Christ, the gospel, will always give hope and comfort to all who hear them and believe them. Jesus had absolute knowledge of the truth and eternal value and indestructibility of his words. They have been preserved and proven true throughout the ages. And as long as there is a need for people to hear the gospel, which is forever, they will hear it – even after the transformation of the heavens and the earth. But by then, it will be not for salvation but for worship in what the gospel has accomplished.

3.       The Witness of Believers (14:8-9)    

         

Along with the eternal witness of the words of Christ is the eternal witness of its effect in the hearts of believers. In essence, it is one and the same. Nothing exists without effect. Here Jesus speaks of the woman who anointed his body with expensive perfume in preparation for burial – a perfect picture of belief in the gospel. In defense of the beauty of her action through love and faith, he says that wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, her story will be told. Jesus knew that his gospel would spread throughout the world and that her story would be preserved even though the gospel had not yet been written. Our actions of faith also have profound significance throughout eternity.

          C.      The Ministry of Christ

1.       The Risen Christ (14:28)        

          Jesus' knowledge of future ministry extends not only through his eternal word, the ministry of disciples, and the witness of believers, it also proceeds through himself. He knew he would rise from the dead and here he proclaims his plan to reveal it for the disciples to see. He would go ahead of them into Galilee to meet them. These were not idle words. The proof of the resurrection would complete the gospel because he knew that he himself is our hope – the One behind the words to make good on them. The angel reinforced his words to the women at the tomb in 16:7.

VII.   Knowledge of the Spirit's Work in Believers' Hearts

          A.      Preparation for His Entry as Messiah and King

1.       The Triumphal Entry (11:1-7)

          The omniscience that Jesus has extends here into another area where he knows how the Holy Spirit will orchestrate events according to the will of God. He knows the call of the Spirit upon certain hearts and just how they will respond. He sees future events in the present. This is why, as they approach his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, that he can give such detailed instructions to his disciples to prepare for it. As they approach Bethphage, he tells two of the disciples to advance into the village ahead where they will find, just after they enter it, a colt tied up that no one has ever ridden. Jesus is so confident of the situation that he told them to respond that the Lord needed it, if anyone asked about what they were doing, and that he would return it shortly.

The disciples did indeed find the colt tied up in a doorway along the street, and they were challenged by those standing there. Their response that they were told to do this by Jesus was all the answer the people needed. Then the disciples brought the colt to Jesus and he sat on it in order to make his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. And this particular triumphal entry was far different than anything the world had ever seen before because of its simple and sincere grandeur and humility. You see, this was the colt of a donkey and not a war-horse. And the purity of the colt that had never been ridden testifies to the purity of the victory that Jesus was proclaiming - not through the cost of the blood of others, but of his own.

          There are several things that tell us this situation was not set up in advance. They were on their way to the village without having been there recently before. Jesus knew the exact details of the scene. Those standing there did not know the disciples, but they did respond to the name of the Lord. It would certainly seem that Jesus knew how they would respond to the Spirit's call that he placed upon them. Perhaps Jesus even orchestrated the response. But at any rate, they believed the Lord's need and were happy to meet it.

          How well does Jesus know your heart? Is he working on it? Can he count on you? When the Spirit prompts, will you respond? Your response may well be the means he desires to make a triumphal entry into someone else's heart. And by the way, he doesn't want your hand-me-downs, he wants your best and finest, unworn and unridden. And you can count on their return having been touched by Jesus.

          B.      Preparation for His Departure as Savior and Lord

1.       The Lord's Supper (14:12-16)

                   The other instance in Mark's gospel that portrays Jesus' knowledge of how people would respond to the Spirit's call upon their hearts is in the preparations to be made for a place to hold the Passover meal during his Passion Week. The disciples come to Jesus and ask him where he wants them to make preparations to eat the Passover. They had been staying outside the city at night and at this time they were in Bethany. So once again, Jesus sends two of his disciples into the city. And once again, they are given detailed instructions about what they would find. And they did find it just as Jesus had said.

          He told them that, going into the city, they would find a man carrying a water jar, an unusual sight since only women did such work. They were not to question him, but only to follow him into the house he would enter. This, of course, fits the clandestine need of the moment as it was not quite yet time for his betrayal. It was the owner of the house they were to talk to. They were to ask confidently in Jesus' name for his guestroom where he might eat the Passover with his disciples. They would be shown the room completely furnished and prepared. Once again, the name of Jesus carries authority and reveals the advance preparation of the Spirit.

          Now, how can we know that this was advance knowledge of Jesus since they had been in the city during the week, and advance preparations could have been directed? First, we have the example of the previous account which lends credibility to this instance. Also, the disciples knew nothing about it, and you would think that Jesus would have used them to arrange any advance preparation. The household into which the disciples went must surely have been "Christian" since a man was carrying the water jar. The teaching and example of Jesus would have been the servanthood of all believers where no task is beneath one's pride. The Spirit could certainly make such advance arrangements through the hearts of such people. And because of Judas, such Spirit led preparation was most expedient.

          This begs the question of whether we have any room for Jesus? And have we prepared that room and furnished it according to his desire? Note that Jesus assumes ownership of the room. He asks for "my" room. But he always comes as a guest without force. He knows where he is welcome. Do you have any rooms you would not desire him to see? He sees anyway.

VIII.  Knowledge of Future Events

          A.      Failings of Disciples

1.       Jesus Predicts the Falling Away of all the Disciples (14:27)  

          It was just after the Lord's last supper, the Passover meal, where Jesus instituted the ordinance of communion as a visual outworking of the next day's events on the cross. They had gone out to the Mount of Olives and Jesus began to teach the disciples further about the events of that next day. Jesus knew what it would hold not only for himself, but for his disciples as well. He told them they would all fall away. Judas had already done so. For the rest it would come that very night after his arrest (14:50). The falling away of Judas would be a permanent fatality, but for the rest it would be temporary. We see this in Jesus' statement that he would meet them in Galilee after his resurrection.

The backdrop of Jesus' quotation of Zech. 13:7, that the shepherd would be stricken and the sheep scattered, shows the inherent weakness of God's people against the overwhelming power of God's grace that he would reveal himself to them anyway. It shows our need of a Shepherd. Jesus knows our weaknesses and failings against which he is our perfect provision. He knows those who are his regardless of whether they are always aware of it. If it is argued he knew about the scattering of his disciples from Scripture, then he knew the Scripture would be fulfilled. How many Scriptures of the fulfilling of God's grace does he know will be fulfilled in our lives? All of them?

2.       Jesus Predicts Peter's Denial (14:29-31)

          Once again, Peter takes exception to the words of Jesus (S. 8:32-33). He considers himself exempt from the failing that Jesus just predicted – that all the disciples would fall away. His overconfidence is once again a foot in his mouth. If Jesus says we will temporarily fail, then we will do just that. Must we be so perfectly self-sufficient that we cannot accept failure even when Jesus knows about it and tells us?

          Jesus goes on to tell Peter even more of the details. Tonight before the rooster crows twice in the morning, he would disown him three times (14:72). And Peter still denies his coming accusation. He is in denial of his denial. Do we know ourselves better than Jesus, our Creator and our God? He knows the details of all our sins – past, present, and future. And yet he still loves us.

          B.      Blessings for Believers

1.       Present and Future Blessings (10:29-31)

          Disciples may temporarily fall away, but as believers they will be rewarded. Peter comments for the disciples on Jesus' handling of the rich young man that they, as opposed to the rich young man, have left everything to follow him. So Jesus comforts them with the truth that those who have left home, family, and livelihood to follow him and minister the gospel will receive many more times (100 times) as much of the same in the present. And in the future will be added eternal life. But there is another gift that Jesus mentions for the present. It is persecution.

          The multiplication of home, family and livelihood come with the church as we serve Jesus in it. We have a new home, a new family, and a new provision much richer than anything we have known before. This will never end and will only continue to increase with the blessings of eternal life. But what about persecutions? These too are gifts that draw believers together in our common experience of these other blessings. Persecution is a cement that bonds us together as believers and one very powerful thing that confirms us as believers. But Jesus goes on to remind the disciples that a proud attitude in sacrificial accomplishments is not befitting of them as believers. It is persecutions that enforce humility and transform that proud attitude.

         

          So Jesus knows that our sacrificial gifts will be multiplied even in this life, and he knows the degree of rewards that the faithful will receive in heaven. And he knows how to transform our attitudes in order to properly receive them.

2.       The Gathering of the Elect (13:26-27)

          As Jesus was teaching his disciples about future events during his passion week in Jerusalem, one of the things Jesus mentions concerning future blessings for believers is the gathering together of all his elect at his Second Coming. They will be brought back together no matter where they are in the universe. Certainly this grand reunion in his name and by his hand at the administration of his earthly rule pictures the greatly extended family of which he spoke in 10:29-31. We have not only a new family but a new home in his glorious kingdom as well as our livelihood in helping him to administer it. And the greatest blessing of all is to serve Christ forever. As much as we have seen of his omniscience, especially his own eternal life having been raised from the dead, we can also believe this that he has told us about our eternal life.

          C.      Transitional Distress

1.       Signs of the End of the Age (13:2-25)

          Now this discourse that Jesus was telling his disciples about future events contains much more than his closing statement about the gathering together of the elect. It is a long string of prophecy, some of which has already come true, some ongoing, and some of which shall yet come true. The credibility of what has come true testifies to the validity of what is yet to occur. Here the omniscience of Jesus is displayed on grand scale. Further credibility is shown by what Jesus says he doesn't know. He does not know the day or hour of his return, just the season (13:32). This must be left to God the Father.

          a.       Events Past: The Destruction of the Temple (13:2)

          Jesus accurately predicted the destruction of the temple. But it happened years later in 70 AD at the hand of the Romans. The Jews were then dispersed over the face of the earth, losing their Promised Land – for awhile.

b.       Events Ongoing: Deception, War, Natural Disaster, Persecution, Betrayal (13:3-13)

          Certain troublesome events will be ongoing until Jesus' return due to the nature of the world in which we live. Some troublesome events for believers, like deception, persecution, and betrayal, will come because of their belief in Jesus. Certainly 13:9 was spoken with the disciples in mind, but all other generations can identify with it as well. These events will certainly increase in intensity (13:8 "These are the beginning of birth pains.") as the return of Jesus draws close.

c.       Events Future: The Abomination, the Flight, and the Final Shaking (13:14-25)

          The future events that Jesus speaks of here involve the travail of Israel at the end of the Great Tribulation when she will finally submit to the Messiah. It is this event that finally ushers in the beginning of the Millennium at his Second Coming. And Gentile believers, the Church, will come with him.

         

D.      Restoration of Israel

1.       The Fig Tree in Leaf (13:28-30)

          Now Jesus gives one more sign that all generations are to "watch". The prophecy in 13:2 foretold the destruction of Jerusalem. We know from history that the Jews were then dispersed. So before the future events immediately preceding this can take place, Israel must be re-gathered. Here also history is on the side of Jesus because it happened in 1948. Jesus foretold the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion also in 11:12-14 and 11:20-21 where he implied a comparison of Israel with a fig tree that he had cursed. This passage promises a reversal of that curse. The seeming mountain of impossibility in prayer that stubborn, stiff-necked Israel would finally accept the Messiah would finally be answered (11:22-25). Our watchfulness should increase when we see that fig tree once again in leaf – or Israel restored once again to the Promised Land. And this time she will bear the fruit of summer. It will once again be the season for figs.

          E.      The Power and Glory of His Eternal Reign

1.       His Coming in Glory (8:38)    

          Although this verse implies the coming judgement of Christ for any and all who deny him, it also speaks of his coming in his Father's glory with the holy angels. Jesus never forgot his heavenly origin and his rightful place at the throne of God. And he knew of the time when his throne as the Son of God would come to earth to rule it as his rightful inheritance. And all who wanted no part of him by faith will have no part of him in fact.

2.       His Visible Coming (13:26)

          Not only does Jesus claim to come in future glory, but he says that his coming will be highly visible in the clouds with great power and glory. This will not be a localized event like the first triumphal entry, it will be a world-shattering event for all to see. This coming will be of the crucified One, immortal and invincible, impeccable and indestructible. And his rule will never end.

3.       Before the Sanhedrin (14:62) 

          Jesus responds to the "are you" question of the high priest with "I am," affirming that he is the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One which is God. And Jesus says he will come again on the clouds of heaven as the eschatalogical Judge who sits at the right hand of the Mighty One. Yes, Jesus knew who he was and the power and glory that are eternally his. And there will be no power on earth but his.

IX.    A Biblical Theology on the Use of Omniscience by Jesus in the Gospel of Mark

          The Gospel of Mark seems to hinge at the junction of 8:30 and 8:31. This is the point where Peter makes his good confession that Jesus is indeed the Christ (8:29). Then Jesus begins to teach the disciples more openly about what the real mission of the Christ is – it is to suffer and die and rise again. But Peter then goes on in 8:32 to reveal his inability to understand and accept that mission.

The Gospel of Mark up to this point has Jesus establishing and carrying out his ministry as the God-man before his disciples and before the people. He exercises his prerogative as God time after time to heal the sick, forgive sins, raise the dead, cast out demons, and meet peoples' needs. He does this primarily to reveal his power as God and to teach the truth of God. And his disciples are the main recipients of all his teaching as they observe him.

Part of his godly prerogative in his teaching is to exercise omniscience. He insightfully teaches by exposing the thoughts of his opponents and by knowing the deepest doubts and needs of his disciples. And he pronounces knowledge before them of his miracles over time and distance that only God could do. Everything he has been doing has been leading to the purpose of his passion. All these things that he has been doing before their eyes shall become universally available through faith in him. Although I have noted his use of omniscience only eight times in this first part of Mark's gospel, I believe that his use of it is largely what has enabled Peter to come at least as far as he has to proclaim that Jesus is the Christ.

But nothing is secure until it is tested. Jesus' plain teaching about his passion tests Peter's confession and proves it in further need of faith development. Perhaps this is why we see the major thrust of Jesus' use of omniscience in Mark's Gospel here in the remaining chapters as Jesus pursues his passion. Jesus uses his omniscience as a faith-developing tool for his disciples. It is not for himself that he needs to make omniscient statements. As God, he knows all things. And as we come to see that he knows all things we believe that he is God, and our faith in him as God is developed. I have noted thirty instances of his use of omniscience from 8:32 onward. As the imminence of his crucifixion nears, the importance of his omniscient teaching about it to his disciples increases. They are to carry his message to the world, so they must understand that message even in hindsight from what he has previously told them.

But the use of Jesus' omniscience is not only for them. It is also for us. As Jesus' passion advances we are led to the only major discourse by Jesus that Mark includes. This is in chapter 13 where Jesus teaches them, and us, about his future ministry and about the signs of the end of the age. It is here and in the next chapter where we see the most concentrated grouping of Jesus' use of omniscience in Mark's gospel. In chapter 14 we see Jesus preparing his disciples at the Last Supper for his departure that very night and his crucifixion the next day. This leads me to the conclusion that the use of omniscience by Jesus in the Gospel of Mark is to teach his disciples in all Ages that he is the Christ and to give them reinforced hope by seeing that what he says comes true. His omniscient statements reinforce his word of hope and warning at the end of his discourse in chapter 13 to "Watch!" because we can count on what he has told us. He will come again as he has said because he is God. The first light of this hope came to the women at the tomb in 16:6-7 when the angel said that he has risen and would meet them in Galilee, "just as he told you."

The Things That Jesus Knew

The Use of Omniscience by Jesus in the Gospel of Mark

I.             Knowledge of People's Inner Thoughts and Attitudes

                A.            His Opponents

1.             Jesus Heals a Paralytic (2:5-12)

                B.            His Disciples

1.             The Yeast of the Pharisees and Herod (8:14-21)

2.             Who Is the Greatest? (9:33-41)

3.             The Lord's Supper (14:18-21)

II.            Knowledge of People's Personal Situations and Needs

                A.            His Disciples

1.             Jesus Walks on the Water (6:45-52)

                B.            His Acquaintances

                                1.             The Rich Young Man (10:17-23)

III.          Knowledge of Miraculous Action Already Taken

                A.            Immediate Revelation

1.             Jesus Heals a Sick Woman (5:24-34)

                B.            Delayed Revelation

1.             Jesus Raises a Dead Girl (5:35-42)  

2.             The Faith of a Syrophoenician Woman (7:24-30)

IV.          Knowledge of Miraculous Action About to be Taken

 

                A.            Restorative

1.             The Healing of a Boy with an Evil Spirit (9:17-29)

B.            Creative

1.             Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand (6:30-44)      

2.             Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand (8:2-5)

                C.            Destructive

1.             The Withered Fig Tree (11:12-14, 20-21)

V.            Knowledge of Personal Destiny

                A.            His Coming Death and Resurrection

1.             Jesus Begins to Teach His Disciples About His Death (8:31-33)               

2.             Jesus Continues to Teach His Disciples About His Death (9:31)

3.             Jesus Again Predicts His Death (10:32-40)

4.             Jesus Predicts His Death as Imminent (14:25)             

                B.            Witnesses to His Death and Resurrection

1.             Some who were Standing There (9:1)

                C.            The Purpose for His Death and Resurrection

1.             The Will of God (8:33)      

2.             The Ransom for Man (10:45)         

VI.          Knowledge of Future Ministry

                A.            The Ministry of His Disciples

1.             Sharing the Cup (10:35-40)              

                B.            The Ministry of the Gospel

                                1.             The Completion of the Gospel Witness (13:10)

2.             The Eternal Words of Christ (13:30-31)

3.             The Witness of Believers (14:8-9)   

               

                C.            The Ministry of Christ

1.             The Risen Christ (14:28)   

VII.         Knowledge of the Spirit's Work in Believers' Hearts

                A.            Preparation for His Entry as Messiah and King

1.             The Triumphal Entry (11:1-7)         

                B.            Preparation for His Departure as Savior and Lord

1.             The Lord's Supper (14:12-16)          

VIII.       Knowledge of Future Events

                A.            Failings of Disciples

1.             Jesus Predicts the Falling Away of all the Disciples (14:27)       

2.             Jesus Predicts Peter's Denial (14:29-31)

                B.            Blessings for Believers

1.             Present and Future Blessings (10:29-31)

2.             The Gathering of the Elect (13:26-27)

                C.            Transitional Distress

1.             Signs of the End of the Age (13:2-25)

                a.             Events Past: The Destruction of the Temple (13:2)

b.             Events Ongoing: Deception, War, Natural Disaster, Persecution, Betrayal (13:3-13)

c.             Events Future: The Abomination, the Flight, and the Final Shaking (13:14-25)

                D.            Restoration of Israel

1.             The Fig Tree in Leaf (13:28-30)

                E.            The Power and Glory of His Eternal Reign

1.             His Coming in Glory (8:38)              

2.             His Visible Coming (13:26)

3.             Before the Sanhedrin (14:62)          

IX.          A Biblical Theology on the Use of Omniscience by Jesus in the Gospel of Mark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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