The Gathering Church/ Pastor Barry Gospel of Mark (naked runner series) Lesson 12
Blind in Bethsaida Mark 8:22-26, Luke 10:8-16, Hebrews 10:26 –27
Jesus and his disciples were passing through Bethsaida on their way to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. This was a Jewish city where Jesus’ ministry was not appreciated. It was in close proximity to the Jewish cities of Chorazin and Capernaum (His “hometown” Mark 6:1-6). These cities were also closed to his ministry even though he had performed miracles there. Nonetheless, “some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him”. It is interesting to note that Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him outside of the village before healing him. Does Jesus get fed up with those who continue to disbelieve after he reveals himself? Apparently the answer is a resounding “yes!”
Before this event, when Jesus sent out the seventy two (Luke 10) to go ahead of him into every town and place where he was to go, he spoke to the future judgment of these places and others like them. The principals he laid out for those disciples are for our learning and practice as well (Luke 10:8-6). When we share Christ in deed and truth and are rejected we are to move on to another person or another place. Whoever listens to you listens to Christ, whoever rejects you rejects Christ. Whoever rejects Christ rejects God. We can apply this to an individual, a family, a group, a town, a city, a state or a country. Ultimately this judgment will be applied to the entire earth (Acts 17:31, Revelation 19:11).
Jesus referred to the ancient judgment of Sodom (Genesis 19:23-28), and Tyre and Sidon (Isaiah 23; Jeremiah 25; 27; 47; Ezekiel 26–28; Joel 3; Amos 1:9–10; Zechariah 9:1–4) as future indictments for those three cities for not believing. History and Archeology prove his words:
Biblical archaeologist, Ron Wyatt discovered the ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah southeast of the Dead Sea in 1989. These cities were covered with millions of partially incinerated sulfur balls and tons of ash. History reveals that Nebuchadnezzar besieged Tyre from 585–572 BC. Alexander the Great conquered Tyre in 322 BC, completely destroying the city. The Persian king Artaxerxes conquered Sidon. Later, both cities became prosperous provinces of Rome in Jesus time. Chorazin, Capernaum and Bethsaida were all destroyed by an earthquake in the 4th century and never successfully rebuilt. Their ruins remain today.
The Blind man in Bethsaida examples the spiritual blindness of that city. Jesus instructed the man (after healing him) “Don’t even go back into the village”. We cannot ever go back to unbelief after receiving the knowledge of the truth or nothing but judgment awaits us.
Kingdom Keys Mark 8:27-30, Romans 8:31-39, Matthew 16:17-20
Jesus often questioned his disciples to see where their faith was at. He also regularly rebuked them for their lack of faith and encouraged them for moving in faith. He did this because all men are basically weak in faith, but it is only by faith that we can come to Christ and be saved (Acts 16:31). With the Apostles therefore we must always seek to “increase our faith” (Luke 17:5). The Apostle Paul said, 1.) “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). The Apostle James said, 2.) “be doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22-25). Being a disciple of Christ is willfully seeking the discipline of Christ to do both. This is the only way to build and exercise your faith.
Jesus asked his disciples “who do people say I am”. He expected various responses from the world but from those who had heard him and followed his instruction he expected faith! When he asked the question “Who do you say that I am?” the question was not just for Peter. It was for everyone present…it is also for you and I! The question was to ascertain who they had faith in. Peter answered correctly “You are the Messiah (Christ: anointed one, promised one of God)”. If this is our answer to the question then what can stand against us? Not even the gates of hell! Nothing can separate us from Christ! (Romans 8:31-39)
Matthew gives us Jesus’ response to Peter. He was not making Peter the first pope in a long line of religious alpha males. The church was never meant to be an institution of hierarchy. The “church” is all people who put their faith and trust on the “rock” who is Christ! Peter’s declaration of faith is what the church is built on and the “keys of the kingdom” (unlocking the mysteries of faith) are possessed by all of heaven’s “children” who believe in Christ (John 1:12, John 14:15-21). The “keys to the kingdom” is real faith that demonstrates itself in action that literally brings heaven down to earth in deed and truth! It is his kingdom coming to earth through his children (Matthew 6:9-10).
Jesus finishes this discourse by ordering his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. Why, might one ask? Because Jesus never came to tell people he was the Messiah. Jesus came to show us. Jesus has made it perfectly clear through his actions. His life fulfilled the prophesies, his living demonstrated truth, love and righteousness, his miracles expressed his deity. No one else in all of history holds a candle to the light of Jesus. If one truly seeks to know God he will find Jesus. If a Jew really wants to find his Messiah he will find only Jesus. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Are we listening?
The Cross Mark 8:31-38, Matthew 6:9-10, Philippians 3:10-14
We know that Peter, nor any man born after him, is the chosen authority (Pope) of the church because in his very next breath he tries to dissuade Jesus from carrying out his mission to go to the cross. Jesus says “get behind me, Satan!” That is how quickly Peter (and any of us) goes from class scholar to dunce by putting earthly concerns before “the mission” to save souls! Jesus is clear, “whoever wants to be his disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow him.” If following Christ has never cost you anything, you’re not following him. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if you are “gaining” in this world then you are putting your concerns before “the mission”(your kingdom before his: Matthew 6:9-10).
We live in an adulterous (unfaithful, disloyal, untrue, inconstant, false, deceiving, deceitful, treacherous) and sinful generation, but we are called to live by faith. To know Christ is to gain the dynamic power of real active faith that presses onward in “the mission” to save souls. Are you moving forward as a disciple with Him or do you need to “get behind him?”