4:1-34 - God’s Word carries this message: ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says...’ (9; Revelation 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22). We must listen for the voice of the Spirit. Grace has been ‘given’ to us (11). It is God's gift. To God be the glory! Sadly, some refuse to listen. Think about your response to God's Word (15-20). Let your light shine (21-23; Matthew 5:16). Use your gifts, or lose them (24-25). We preach the Word. God gives the growth (26-29; 1 Corinthians 3:6-7). A small child can count the seeds in an apple. Only God knows how many apples there are in a single seed! God’s Word is a ‘seed’ which bears much fruit (30-32; 1 Peter 1:23-25). Parables whet the appetite - for more! They were given to people ‘as they were able to hear it’ - ‘a starter’ (33-34)! May we be ‘visual aids’ to whet people’s appetite - for God!
4:35-5:20 - Jesus was sleeping because He was tired - not because He didn't care (38)! He does care. Everything was under control. Faith was being tested. Fear and faith are opposites (40). ‘Awe’ (41) is very different from unbelieving fear. Awe leads to worship. Fear destroys faith. The man was filled with 'unclean spirits' (13). He was a ‘demoniac’ (15-16). No one could do anything for him (3) - except Jesus! They tried to ‘subdue’ him (4). Jesus saved him! He is able to lift from the guttermost... and ‘save to the uttermost’ (Hebrews 7:25). The human situation is hopeless (Ephesians 4:18-19; 2 Corinthians 4:4) - without Christ! With Him, everything changes (2 Corinthians 4:6; Ephesians 4:22-24). ‘'The gates of hell prevail against’ us. They do not prevail against Christ (Matthew 16:18). Tell others what the ‘Lord has done for you’ - God will use your words to bring blessing (19-20).
5:21-6:13 - The story begins with Jairus (21-24). Then, there is an ‘interruption’ - which brought healing to a woman (25-34). The woman had nowhere else to go (25-26). She came to Jesus (27). She was healed - not because she touched His garment (many others were brushing against Him), but because she had ‘faith’ (28,31,34). Jesus brought her out into the open - so that she might confess Him (30,32-33). The new birth can take place in very quiet circumstances - by faith in Christ. Jesus wants us to ‘come out’ - to confess Him. Back to Jairus’ daughter - People thought there was no hope. Jesus said, ‘Do not fear, only believe’ (35-36). Not everyone believes. We can limit the power of Christ among us - by our unbelief (5-6)! We can, however, be called, sent and given authority... (7) - Never forget: The power and glory belongs to God (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).
6:14-44 - They were great men of God - ‘John the baptiser... Elijah... the prophets of old’ (14-15). None of them can compare with the Lord Jesus Christ. These men directed attention to the Lord (1 Kings 18:36-39; Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-27). Of Christ alone, we say, ‘There is salvation in no one else...’ (Acts 4:12). Christ saves - and satisfies: We feed on Him and we are ‘satisfied’ (42). Apart from Him, the human search ends in this: ‘I can't get no satisfaction’. In Him, there is satisfaction - He is the Saviour. Saved, satisfied and sharing - this is what we are to be. To His disciples, He still says, 'You give them something...' (37). We say, ‘We don’t have enough’. He says, ‘I am more than enough’ (2 Corinthians 3:5). Many are ‘like sheep without a shepherd’. We must not fail them. We must ‘teach them many things’ (34).
6:45-7:23 - The storm is raging: ‘they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them’ (48). Jesus draws near, and there is peace: ‘the wind ceased’ (51). Another ‘storm’ continues to rage: ‘Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders...?’ (5). How did Jesus respond to this ‘storm’ of criticism? - He exposed the hypocrisy of those who made the tradition of men more important than the Word of God (7-9,13). He invited ‘the people’ to come ‘to Him’, to ‘hear’, to ‘understand’. His Word was addressed to ‘all’ of them (14). Jesus emphasizes this point: ‘man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart’ (1 Samuel 16:7). The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. Which will it be? - ‘Their hearts were hardened’ (52) or ‘Loving the Lord your God with all your heart’ (12:30).
7:24-8:26 - Verse 27: The Gospel is for all - Jews and Gentiles (John 3:16). It seems like a ‘refusal’. It is not. In love, Jesus says, ‘Show me that your faith is real’. First things ‘first’: Do you really want to be blessed by the Lord ? Or, are you content with ‘going through the motions’ of religious ritual? Is God's Word going in one ear and out the other (deaf)? Are you ashamed of the Lord (dumb)? Jesus ‘makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak’ (37). Jesus feeds those who are hungry - for Him. To those who say, “‘Yes, Lord, even the crumbs’, so long as it comes from You”, Jesus gives much - and we are ‘satisfied’ (28;8). Don’t settle for ‘the leaven of the Pharisees’ (15) - second best (by a long way!) - when you can have Jesus, the very best! ‘Open our eyes, Lord. We want to see Jesus’ (22-26; Mission Praise, 545).
8:27-9:13 - ‘Who do you say that I am ?’: Jesus puts this question to all of us. Some believe He is the Christ. Others do not. Some try to 'sit on the fence'. Everyone makes their response to Him. God is not deceived by outward observance of religion, when it masks an inward refusal to receive Christ as Saviour, to submit to Him as Lord. On the day of judgment, God will not be looking for respectability. He will be looking for faith (Luke 18:8). Peter confessed Christ (29). Then, he was overcome by Satan (33). He became ‘puffed up’ with pride (1 Corinthians 8:1). He forgot that faith comes from divine revelation (Matthew 16:17). We are not ‘to rebuke’ the Lord (32). Looking to ‘Jesus only’ (8; Romans 4:5), we are to live as His disciples (34) - not of this world, as He is not of this world (John 17:14,16; 1 Corinthians 2:12; 2 Peter 1:3-4).
9:14-50 - ‘Our God is able’ (Daniel 3:17). Do we believe this? There is no doubt about God’s power. What about our faith? We come to Jesus, saying, ‘If you can’. Jesus turns things around: ‘If you can! All things are possible to him who believes’ (22-23). This is not so much an appeal for positive thinking. It is a call to prayer (29). Less self-confidence and more confidence in God - This is what we need. God’s greatness is more important than our ‘greatness’ (33-35). Are there things that you don’t understand? Don’t be afraid to ask (32). You may even learn from those who ‘don’t belong to our group’ (38-40). They don’t belong to our group? So what? Do they belong to Christ? That’s what matters. ‘It is better’ (43,45,47) to be Christ’s - than anything else! May our faith, though ‘tested by fire’, grow strong - to God’s glory (49-50; 1 Peter 1: 6-7).