Sunday, March 26, 2023


 Jesus Calms A Storm


The section of Jesus’ teaching ended with the parable of the mustard seed. Mark returns to the narrative of Jesus’ actions. There are 4 stories in this section. They all show Jesus doing miracles. 

After teaching all day from a boat, Jesus wanted to take the boat to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. So they took him. 

Notice all the detail here. They took him from the boat in which he sat, there were other boats, and Jesus slept on a cushion. These indicate a first hand account, likely from Peter. 

But while they were on the sea, a wind storm came up, which created big waves that were swamping the boat. The boat began to fill with water. The disciples were afraid it would sink. But Jesus slept peacefully on a cushion in the stern, or back, of the boat. His sleeping shows his humanity. He was likely exhausted after teaching all day.

But his sleeping also shows his trust in the Father. He had no fear of harm, knowing the Father controlled the time and manner of his death.

The disciples did not share his faith or trust. They were scared of dying. They actually chide Jesus as they wake him: do you not care that we are perishing? He was their leader and should be helping them, if not saving them. But he was sleeping. 

You have to wonder if Mark’s original audience of Christians in the Roman Empire were not in mind as Mark wrote this. They suffered. Maybe their response was doesn’t God care? 

In response to the disciples waking him, Jesus acts in a way that both meets their need and displays his glory. He calmed the storm. He exercised authority over the weather. Only God can do that. So, Jesus manifested his deity. 

One of Mark’s purposes in this gospel is to reveal the deity of Christ, to show that Jesus is God. 

Compare this story to the story of Jonah and notice the similarities. In both, God’s man is on a boat in the sea and there is a storm. Both Jonah and Jesus slept in the boat during the storm. In both, the others roused the sleeper to save them. Jonah was to pray and Jesus to act. In Jonah, God calmed the sea. In Mark, Jesus calms the sea, showing his deity. Jesus did what only God can do. 

There may also be an allusion to Psalm 107:23-32 where the Lord raised a storm on the sea, then stilled it when men cried out to him.  

The disciples reacted to this display the way people often do when confronted with the divine: they were filled with great fear. 


Jesus Exorcises Demons


After Jesus calmed the sea, the disciples continued with Jesus to the eastern shore. A man came out to see him who was demon possessed. 

The demons had the following effects on the man:

*he lived among the tombs with the dead

*he was so strong no one could bind him & he could break chains

*he cut himself

*he cried out all night.

He was miserable and self destructive. The devil will use receptive people to do what he wants, but he will always leave them broken and miserable. All humans are created in the image of God and the devil always seeks to destroy that image. 

From a Jewish perspective, there is a strong measure of uncleanness. The Decapolis was populated with unclean Gentiles. They raised pigs, which were unclean animals. Then there was the presence of a man possessed by unclean spirits. He lived among the tombs and Jews believed contact with dead bodies made you unclean. 

Yet, Jesus went there. It even appears there may have been demonic opposition in the form of the storm and now the demon possessed man. But Jesus will again bind the strong man. He invaded the kingdom of Satan and expanded the kingdom of God.

This man ran at, or maybe to, Jesus. (6) He was driven by the demons. They called themselves “Legion” there were so many of them. They were afraid of Jesus. They, through the man, fell down before Jesus, recognizing him and his authority. They begged for mercy. They did not want to be sent out of the country.

The demons begged Jesus to send them into the pigs. (12) So he did. But the pigs then rushed into the sea and drowned. 

The result for the man was that he was clothed and in his right mind. (16) He wanted to go and be with Jesus. Jesus told him to stay and tell what the Lord did for him and how he had mercy on him. So he did, and became an evangelist throughout the Decapolis area, telling what Jesus had done for him. (20) 

He is an example for us. God has done much for us in giving us eternal life. He has extended mercy for us through Jesus Christ, not consigning us to spiritual death for our sins, but giving us salvation. 

The result for the herdsmen was that they also went and told people what Jesus did. But they were afraid. They asked Jesus to leave. And he did, crossing the sea back to the western side. 

Sunday, March 19, 2023


 The Lamp & The Basket


The context here is still the appearance of the kingdom of God and its breaking into the kingdom of the world with the appearance of Jesus. It can be confusing since Matthew 5:14-16 uses some of the same language but in a different context with a different meaning. Luke 11:33 uses some of the same language in yet another context. Jesus could use similar statements at various times to convey different points. 

Although the English versions are very similar in the wording about the lamp, in the Greek Mark’s is different. It literally reads “does the lamp come in order that it might be placed under the basket or under the bed?”. The lamp is the subject rather than the object of the sentence. 

For example, Young’s Literal Translation says: “And he said to them, `Doth the lamp come that under the measure it may be put, or under the couch -- not that it may be put on the lamp-stand?”

Given the context and sentence construction, we see that the lamp is Christ. There is Old Testament precedent for this image, as God and the Messiah were referred to as a lamp, as was God’s word. 

Jesus is the lamp of God who has come to bring light to the world. Light is a symbol for revelation or knowledge of God. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5) Jesus himself said “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

So, while Jesus is at least partially hidden at the time of the story, he will be made manifest. His human form hides his glory. His humble origins hide his role as king. But, for those who hear his message, as emphasized in his instruction about the soils, these things are made manifest. As verse 23 says: “he who has ears to hear, let him hear”. Those who believe in Jesus as the Son of God had ears to hear. 

Plus, at the end of the age, his glory will be fully revealed and recognized by all. 

Jesus ended this teaching with an admonishment: Pay attention to what you hear”. (24) The doorway to the Kingdom of God is through hearing. 

The last part of verse 24 is a Jewish saying that Jesus applies to this situation: “with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still ore will be added to you”. The inference is that God will measure it out and add it to you. The Jews did not like to say God’s name out loud for fear of taking his name in vain.

Mark applies the saying to the understanding of Jesus’ parables. Those to whom the mystery of the kingdom is given will receive the ability to understand it and enter it. Those who fail to receive Jesus will not understand and will not enter into the kingdom. The understanding o the kingdom of God is given by Christ. 

Paul understood this truth. He prayed that the Colossians would have the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:2-3)

Seed and Harvest


This is another parable concerning the sowing of seeds and the harvest. It is much shorter that the parable of the sower. This parable is also about the kingdom, as Jesus says in verse 26. 

The parable of the sower emphasized the process of growth. This parable is about the contrast between the small beginnings and the big result.

The sowing of some seed is a common place and small thing. It parallels the life and ministry of Jesus. He was born of humble parents in a humble setting. He grew up in a small village. The beginnings of his ministry, his bringing in of the kingdom, was small. 

The emphasis here is also on God growing the kingdom. The farmer “knows not how” (27). He goes about his business of sleeping and rising and the seed sprouts and grows. 

The seed grows in an orderly fashion from blade to ear to the full grain. (29) All of this is done in God’s timing. It is the same for the kingdom. 

Then the harvest comes. Harvest is often a symbol of judgment. Here the sickle is the symbol of gathering the saints to the Lord and the unbelievers to judgment. For example, Joel 3:13:

Put in the sickle,

for the harvest is ripe.

Go in, tread,

for the winepress is full.

The vats overflow,

for their evil is great. 

Revelation 14:14-20 also uses the image of sickle harvesting the earth “for the harvest of the earth is ripe”. This is a metaphor for “in the fulness of time”, meaning at the time God designates.

The Pharisees tried to bring in the kingdom by rigid adherence to the law. The Zealots tried to bring in the kingdom by military force. Some today try to bring in the consumption of the kingdom by breeding red heifers. But God decides the time for the return of Jesus and the end times judgment. 

Parable of the Mustard Seed


This parable reinforces the idea that the kingdom starts very small. The mustard seed is a tiny seed. In Palestine it was a symbol of small things. But the small seed will, in contrast, grow into a plant that is large and strong. 

The kingdom of God will also be large, containing many people. 

John saw a great multitude in heaven. (Revelation 7:9)



Jesus continued to speak “the word” to them, but in parables. He explained their meaning privately to the disciples. These verses concluded Jesus’ teaching on the kingdom. 


The Pharisees tried to bring in the kingdom by rigid adherence to the law.

The Zealots tried to bring in the kingdom by military force. 

But God inaugurated the kingdom by sending Jesus “in the fulness of time”. (Galations 4:4)

Jesus is always building his kingdom.

Only by faith in Christ are people able to understand God’s word fully. 

God will determine when the final harvest comes & we do not speed it along.

The harvest will be great - multitudes will be with Christ for eternity. 

Sunday, March 12, 2023



Structure wise, chapter 4 contains another one of Mark’s “sandwich” narratives. In verses 1 through 9, he tells the parable. Then in verses 13-20, he explains the parable. Inserted in between, in verses 10 through 12, is a teaching on the kingdom of God.

Mark 4:1-2

Jesus Teaching With Parables

The crowds continued to follow and press in on Jesus. He used this as an opportunity to teach. So he got into a boat and had the crowd sit on land and listen to him. There is a place called the Bay of Parables or the Sower’s Cove that is a natural amphitheater. It has been proven that a voice will carry from a boat to the land. 

Jesus taught them many things in parables. This was Jesus’ preferred form of public teaching. There are about 60 parables in the gospels.  A parable takes a common subject to illustrate a truth. 

The most common subject of Jesus’ parables is the kingdom of God. He used things from ordinary life to illustrate truths of the kingdom. That does not mean they were easy to understand. In fact, they were not generally understood by any who did not have faith in Jesus.

Parable of the Sower


This parable is often called the Parable of the Sower. Some call it the parable of the soils, but that can lead us to miss the point of the parable. Parables normally have one main point.

Here the sower is a farmer sowing seeds. This was done by hand. There was no plowing. The farmer just scattered seeds on the ground.

Here some of the seeds were eaten by birds. Others sprouted but were burned by the sun and died. The third group sprouted but were choked by thorns. So, three fourths of the farmer’s labor was lost. 

Yet, there was a great harvest. The seeds that produced grain produced a harvest from 30 to 100 times the number of seeds planted. (9) 

The Purpose of Jesus’ Parables


The verses are the insert, the filling of the sandwich. Here Jesus explains the his purpose in teaching through parables.

Verse 9 is a good lead in to this explanation, as Jesus says “He who has ears to hear, let him hear”. He implies that some can hear and some cannot.

Those who get this explanation are his closest followers, the Twelve and some others. (10) He said they were given the secret of the kingdom God. A secret, or mystery, means a knowledge of God that humans cannot attain by natural means. It is “given” to them, not attained by their own devices. 

This is similar to Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 2:14: “The natural person does not understand the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned”. 

These followers are those on the inside. The others are on the outside. This is another example of Mark’s inside vs. outside contrasts. 

Those on the outside receive parables. Jesus applied Isaiah 6:9 to the situation. Isaiah 6 contains the commissioning of Isaiah as a prophet. In verse 9, God told Isaiah that his message would not be accepted by Israel and would, in fact, harden hearts. The Israelites would hear, but not understand. They had rebelled against God and could not and would not understand his word.

God’s words were a judgment upon the people of Israel who had turned away from God and did not believe him. So, Jesus’s words indicate a judgment on those of that generation who did not believe in him. 

The secret Jesus’ followers were given is that the kingdom of God comes in the person and preaching of Jesus. Remember, the first words of Jesus that Mark records are: “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel”. (Mark 1:15) 

God chose to reveal this secret of the kingdom in veiled way, understood only by those of faith who recognize Jesus as the Son of God.

The Explanation


The sower is Jesus. The seed is the word of the gospel. The soils are those who hear in various ways. 

Some have the word taken away by Satan immediately upon hearing. (15) Some hear and receive it with joy, but fall away when troubles come because they really have no root. (17) Some hear, but cannot leave the desire for money and things to put Jesus first. This was the case of the rich young man of Mark 10.  

The good soil represents those  those who hear the word and believe and come into the kingdom. They accept it. (20) They bear much fruit. They become a great harvest. 

The point of the story is that the kingdom comes in slowly, one believer at a time, but grows exponentially over time as the word is preached. Many refuse the gospel, but those who believe will become a great multitude. As Paul said:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…”

Friday, March 10, 2023

 Here is a good word from Kristin Couch on handling disruptions to our lives. 

Thursday, March 09, 2023



Blaspheming the Holy Spirit


This is a difficult passage. 

As a reminder, the context here is the accusation by the scribes that Jesus was possessed by Satan and cast out demons by him. (22) Jesus first answered by showing how illogical that was. Then he issued a warning: blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is not going to be forgiven. To be sure we got the message, Mark explains that Jesus said that because the Scribes said he had an unclean spirit.

We know that Jesus had the Holy Spirit. Mark records the Spirit descending upon Jesus. (Mark 1:10) Peter preached that God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 10:38)  

How does one blaspheme the Holy Spirit? Blasphemy generally means irreverence, defamation, or reviling. Most Protestant theologians, although they approach from different angles, end up saying this sin is to reject Jesus as the savior. Certainly, it is true that rejecting Christ or failing to believe in him does result in death. Those who do not believe in the name of the only Son of God are condemned. (John 3:17) 

However, Jesus said other blasphemies would be forgiven, which would include blasphemies against himself, but not against the Spirit. Luke’s version is very specific regarding this. Luke quotes Jesus as saying that words spoken against the Son of Man will be forgiven. (Luke 12:10) But not words spoken against the Holy Spirit. 

So, it must be said that reviling or defaming the Holy Spirit is a sin that is not forgiven. However, it should also be said that a believer cannot commit this sin since the Holy Spirit indwells every believer and would restrain us from committing that sin. And it is likely that one who has reached the point of blaspheming the Spirit is one who will never come to repentance and so is condemned. 

Jesus’ Family Opposes Him


Jesus’ teaching regarding blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is inserted in the middle of the story of the appearance of his family and interrupts the story. It resumes in these verses.

The story began in verse 21, when Mark records that his family went to seize him and were saying he was “out of his mind”. It appears they wanted to forcibly take him back to Nazareth and keep him from preaching and healing. 

Since people at the time often believed that a person was “out of his mind” because of demon possession, their attitude, actions, and words are perilously close to those of the Scribes. 

Like the scribes, Jesus’ family does not believe in him. His mother and brothers have showed up at the house in Capernaum. They were attempting to lay a claim on him. They were also attempting to keep him from his mission, as Peter would later.

However, the house was packed with people and they could not get it. So, they called to him from outside. Jesus either did not hear it or ignored it.(31)

Others in the house hear his family and inform Jesus that his mother and brothers are outside. Jesus used the occasion to teach. 

He first asked who were his mother and brothers. Then he looked at those around him, who were listening to him teach. He said his family were the believers who followed him. The crowd was sitting around him in a semi-circle. So, Jesus looked at the ones around him and said here is my family, my mother, my brothers.

But then he added to the wording of the exchange.  Those who do the will of God are his family, and he added the word “sister”. (35) He must have done this intentionally. It emphasized that, although most of the Jewish religion was conducted by men, Jesus’ kingdom would also be composed of women who believed and followed him. Jesus elevated the status of women.

Jesus put the family of faith above the family of flesh. This shows us that sometimes conversion creates a division. Our fleshly families do not come with us into God’s family and may even oppose it. 

In another place, Jesus said:

Do not think that I have come to ring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter are than me is not worthy of me”. (Matthew 10:34-37)

Jesus was committed to do the will of the Father. Nothing deterred him from his mission. He said “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.” (John 14:10) 

He also said “…I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love…” (John 15:10) 


Jesus’ commitment to the Father’s will resulted in our salvation!

Sunday, February 26, 2023


  Jesus & The Crowds

Mark 3:7-11

After the events in the synagogue in Capernaum, Jesus and his followers retreated to the less populated parts of the coast of the sea of Galilee. Apparently, Jesus was trying to create space to move around while the crowds following him grew. At home in the city, he would be trapped in the house and unable to move around or to address the whole group. The crowd was so large that Jesus had a boat prepared for him in case he needed to escape to the sea to avoid being crushed. (9) 

This group included people from many different places. It included Jews from Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. It also included people from Idumea, south of Judea, a mix of Jews and Gentiles. 

There were people from east of the Jordan, likely Jews and Gentiles from the Decapolis area. There were also Gentiles from north of Galilee, the region of Tyre and Sidon. Those cities were originally Phoenician, but had been conquered by the Romans. 

In Isaiah 49:6, God says his servant, the Messiah, would be a light for the nations (Gentiles) that his salvation might reach the whole world. 

The crowd had grown large and aggressive because thy had learned that Jesus could heal the sick. They pressed upon him, wanting to touch him and be healed. (10)

Jesus even had the disciples prepare a boat so he could avoid being crushed by the crowd. 

Jesus also encountered unclean spirits, or demons. When they saw him, they caused the people they possessed to fall down before him and acknowledge him as the Son of God. (11) They knew who he was and acknowledged his authority over them since they fell down before him. 

But they acknowledge it in the sense that they knew he could cast them out. They did not follow him or worship him. 

He strictly ordered them not to make him known, as he did not want to be witnessed to by demons. His ability to order them also shows his authority and superiority.

Appointing the Apostles


There were many who followed Jesus. Many were spectators. Some were disciples. We know that Joseph Barsabbas and Matthias were there, as they were candidates to replace Judas. (Acts 1:21-23)

There were women who followed him, inlacing Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and Salome (15:40)

Jesus picked 12 men from the larger group of disciples and appointed them as apostles. An apostle is one who is sent off with a message. It is from the Greek “apostolos”. 

We see here that Simon\Peter is listed first as he emerged as the spokesman and leader of the apostles. James and John are listed next. Those three become the preeminent apostles. They are the ones who witness Jesus’ transfiguration. (Mark 9:1-13) They are the ones Jesus took into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. (Mark 14:32-42) 

Judas, as you would expect, is listed last with the tag “who betrayed him”. (19) Robert Estienne, who was the first to divide the New Testament into standard numbered verses, in 1555, even makes the mention of Judas a separate verse, further isolating him from the other apostles. 

Jesus appointed them to preach and empowered them to cast out demons. (14-15)

Home Again


Jesus returned home, which was Capernaum. He could not escape the crowds. They filled the house so much that Jesus could not even eat.

Mark here inserts a disturbing note. Jesus’ family went to the house to seize Jesus. They evidently wanted to take him home and shut him up. They said he was out of his mind, that he was crazy. That had to hurt. 

It shows us that following Christ can create hostility among your friends and family members. This is what Jesus meant when he said he came not to bring peace but a sword. (Matthew 10:34)

The Scribes Attack


The Scribes went on the attack again. They came to town and saw Jesus cast out demons. They could not deny that he did. So, they accused him of being possessed by and casting out demons by the power of Satan. They called him “Beelzebul”. 

They seem to mean Satan by this term as they also call him the “prince of demons”. (22) Also, Jesus responds by using the name Satan. 

Jesus confronted the accusation by showing it to be illogical. Satan would not cast out his own soldiers because a house divided against itself cannot stand. 

Jesus also added information about his authority over the demons and over Satan himself. He said no one can enter a man’s house and plunder it unless he first binds the strong man. (3:27)

The implication is that Satan is the strong man and Jesus has bound him. Therefore he can plunder his house by casting out demons and claiming the delivered people for his own. 

Remember that the book of Job shows Satan as roaming the earth, but also able to enter the presence of God. (Job 1:6) He is subject to God, as shown by his need for permission to torment Job. (Job 1:12) But he has the ability to come into God’s presence. 

Revelation 12 shows us a picture of a war in heaven. Satan, portrayed as the dragon, was defeated. He and his followers were thrown down to earth. The heavenly voice explained that the kingdom of God and the authority of his Christ have come. 

Jesus, in his earthly ministry exercised authority over Satan’s demons and resisted Satan himself in the wilderness. Then, a further binding of Satan occurred at the death and resurrection of Jesus. 

Colossians 2:15 tells us that Jesus, by his death on the cross, disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame by triumphing over them. That is why, after his death and resurrection, Jesus could tell his disciples all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him. (Matthew 28:18)

In that authority, the disciples could fulfill the commission from Jesus to make disciples of all nations. (Matthew 28:19) 

And in that authority, the church can continue to fulfill the commission as we spread the gospel all over the world. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2023



1 Peter 1:3-5


Peter starts this passage praising for God. The first three verses (verses 3-5) are a doxology, which means a word of praise. 

When Peter says “Blessed be..God”, it is a praise. It is not the same as when God blesses us by adding something to us, because we cannot add anything to God. He is self sufficient and perfect. 

But it is a way to say “praise God”. It is also a way of saying, may his name be blessed, or honored, on earth because of who he is and what he has done. That is probably why the NIV translates the word as “praise” rather than “blessed”. 

Peter praised God for our salvation. There are three things about our salvation that he praises God for. 

First, God gave us salvation according to his great mercy. (3)

Mercy means not getting what you deserve. It is the showing of forgiveness to those whom you have the right and power to punish. 

God has the right to punish us, because we all sinned against him and deserve death. (Romans 3:23; 6:23) 

God certainly has the power to punish. Revelation 20 shows us a graphic picture of God defeating Satan and casting him and all of God’s enemies into the lake of fire and sulfur.

But those of us who have put our faith in Jesus Christ are relieved from the consequences of our sin because, in his mercy, God sent his son Jesus who paid the penalty for our sins on the cross. In 1 Corinthians 15:3, Paul wrote “I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins…” 

Since our salvation is a matter of God’s mercy, it is not a matter of our work or righteousness. No one can work his or her way into heaven. 

As Paul wrote, “for by the works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight…” (Romans 3:20)

To his praise, God acted in mercy, not judgment, toward those who believe in his Son, Jesus. He caused us to be born again. It was his initiative. 

No one can take credit for being born. No one can take credit for being born again.  

Second, we believers are born again to a living hope. That hope is not that we will live our best life now, as Peter makes clear in verses 6 and 7. It is that we will live our best life in eternity. 

Hope, as the New Testament uses it, is not a wish. It is a firm belief in something to come in the future that is so great and so much better than this life that we can even endure suffering and hardship for Jesus.

Our hope is eternity with Jesus. We endure suffering now because know it is temporary and eternal life is forever. 

This hope comes to us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (3) As Jesus was raised from the dead, so will all who are in Christ. Because he was raised, we can believe we will be raised as he promised. 

1 Corinthians 15:22-23 says:

 “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ”.   

Our hope is a living hope because it comes to us through a living savior, Jesus Christ. He died for our sins, but was raised to life. As Jesus told the Apostle John in his revelation, “I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died and behold I am alive forevermore…” (Revelation 1:17-18) 

Jesus Christ is our living hope in the sense that he is eternal and gives us eternal life.

Third, this hope of eternal life is an inheritance. It is something we receive in the future because of our relationship to God. 

Just as you might inherit money from you parents because you are their son or daughter, you, as a believer, inherit eternal life because you have been born again and adopted into the Family of God. 

We are God’s children. We call him “Father”. And we are brothers and sisters of his Son, Jesus. Since we are children of God through and with Jesus, we are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Jesus. (Romans 8:15-17) 

Our inheritance is eternal life. We first inherit heaven. When we die, we go to heaven to be with the Lord. Then, when God makes all things new at the end of this age,  we inherit life in the new creation described in Revelation 21, all of which will belong to us.  

Peter tells us this inheritance is kept for us in heaven. (4) We do not keep it ourselves. That is why we cannot lose our salvation. If we could lose our salvation, we would.

But God keeps it. Peter says we are those who are guarded by God’s power through faith. (5) We place our faith in Jesus and he keeps our salvation for us. No one has the power to take it, or us, from him.

Not only can we not lose our salvation, it cannot be diminished in anyway. Peter uses three words to describe this. Our inheritance is 


undefiled; and 


These are not three different types of salvation, but three ways of saying the same thing. 

Created things all disintegrate. Have you ever gotten something out of the fridge to cook, but had to throw it away because it was molded or rotten? It was perishable. 

But God is not perishable. He is the immortal God (Romans 1:23) He does not die or decline. Therefore, he can keep our salvation imperishable.

It is also undefiled. When you defile something, you take something sacred or good and corrupt it with something bad or profane.  

In the Old Testament, a man who entered the sanctuary when he was ceremonially unclean defiled it. Jews would not enter the house of a Gentile because they believed it defiled them and they could not go to the temple or celebrate one of the feasts. 

Our inheritance is also unfaded. When I was young, each time you washed your clothes, they faded a little bit. Soon, they no longer looked new. You could recognize a poor person by their faded clothes. But our salvation does not fade.

No matter how long you live, your salvation and eternal life will be as beautiful and glorious as on the day you were saved. No matter how long this age lasts, the age to come will be as perfect and beautiful as it would be if this age ended today. And it is because the eternal, all powerful, God keeps it. 

Peter also pointed out that, although we were saved when we believed, the full measure of our salvation will be realized, or revealed, in the last time. (5) When Jesus returns and God makes all things new, we will see the full measure of what God has for us. 

Even our imaginations are not good enough to picture what God has for us. 1 Corinthians 2:9 says:

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,

nor the heart of man imagined,

what God has prepared for those who love him”.

Conclusion: Rejoicing

This living hope, this inheritance, this eternal life, causes us to rejoice. (6) “Rejoice” means to feel and to express great joy or delight. Let that sink in and convict you for a moment. Your salvation should cause you to feel and express great delight. 

Rejoicing in salvation is important. On reason it is important is that it helps us endure suffering and disappointment. Peter said his readers rejoiced even though they were grieved by various trials. Those trials tested the genuineness of their faith. (7) 

It is easy to have faith when things are going well. It is more difficult when you suffer. When we suffer, we are tempted to question God for not relieving our suffering. When we are persecuted, we are tempted to deny our faith to stop the persecution. 

The test of true faith is enduring in faith until the end. When we persevere in faith despite trials, it shows that we have true faith. Our faith will even be strengthened, for we have seen God faithful to us and know we can be faithful to him. 

It will also bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus returns (the revelation of Jesus Christ in verse 7). It will bring him glory as those who have believed in him are gathered to him. And we will share that glory and reap the reward of a faithful life. 

Another reason we rejoice is that our trials are brief compared to our eternal inheritance. Peter said “now for a little while”. Believers look past trials in faithful anticipation of eternal life. 

Peter acknowledged that his situation was different than his readers’. Peter knew Jesus in the flesh. He knew him intimately as a follower and friend. He saw him transfigured in glory. He saw the resurrected Jesus.

But, Peter’s readers never saw Jesus in person. Peter marveled at their faith: they loved him and believed in him. (8). They rejoiced with this inexpressible, glorious joy. 

We are in the same situation. We have not seen Jesus, but we have heard of him through the witness of the apostles and those who preached to us, and through the Holy Spirit opening our hearts to him. 

So today I call you who believe to be filled with joy.

But for you who have not placed your faith in Christ, know that you cannot have this joy without Christ. I call you to believe in Jesus Christ and be saved. 



Lord of the Sabbath


This story recounts the first conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees over the Sabbath. 

Before going ahead with the story, let’s review what the Scripture says about the Sabbath. 

Genesis 2:2-3 says :

“And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done and he rested on the seventh day from all his work he had done. So, God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all this work that he had done in creation.” 

God did not rest because he was tired. Rather, he ceased his work of creation. So, God blessed the 7th day and made it holy. He set it aside for himself. The word “sabbath” is not used here, but any Jew reading it would make the connection. The word “sabbath” is from a Hebrew word meaning “to cease”. 

Next we come to God making a covenant with Israel. The basic terms of the covenant are that, if Israel obeyed God and kept the terms of the covenant, they would be his treasured possession among all peoples, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. (Exodus 19:5-6) 

Then, in Exodus 20, God began to tell Israel the commandments and rules they must obey to keep the covenant. They are summarized in the Ten Commandments. The fourth commandment is to remember the Sabbath day and to keep it holy. The Israelites could work for six days of the week, but could not work on the 7th, nor could they make anyone else work. God referred back to his creation and resting.

So, the idea was that God set apart the 7th day as holy and Israel must keep it holy. 

Then, in Exodus 31, God explains the Sabbath to Moses in greater detail. Keeping it holy means no one in Israel may work on the Sabbath and doing so is punishable by death. 

The Sabbath is also a sign of the covenant between God and Israel, showing that God has sanctified them, or set them apart from all other nations to be his. 

God gave signs to help his people remember his covenants. He gave the rainbow as a sign of his covenant with Noah that he would never again destroy the world with a universal flood. (Genesis 9:8-12) 

He gave circumcision as a sign of his covenant with Abraham that God would make him the father of a multitude and would bless all nations through him. (Genesis 17:11) 

In the same way, God gave the Sabbath as a sign of his covenant with Israel. They would have a day of rest from work. These people who were slaves, who worked every day of the year for someone else, now had a day when they would not work or make their own servants work. The whole nation took the day off from work.

This is a sign of the covenant, because no one else did it. Whenever anyone saw the Jews take the day off of their mostly agrarian duties, they knew they were different. As the Jews worshipped and reflected on God during the Sabbath, they also depended on him to provide for them while they rested from their labors. 

This sign was very important and God took it very seriously. He told Moses “above all you shall keep my Sabbaths”. (Exodus 31:12) 

But the Israelites did not obey. Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel all warned of the violation of the Sabbath. In Jeremiah 17:27, God said he would destroy Israel if they kept violating the Sabbath. He did so as 2 Chronicles 36:20 states.

The Pharisees, in particular, wanted to make sure that never happened again. So, they strictly observed the Sabbath. In their zeal, they added many rules, in addition to those in Scripture, to make sure they Sabbath was observed. They turned the Sabbath from a benefit to a burden. 

The issue in this passage is Jesus’ disciples plucking heads of grain as they walked through the fields. They would pull off the head of grain and rub it in their hands until only the seeds were left. Then they ate the seeds. We call the seeds kernels or berries. 

There was nothing wrong with plucking the grain. Gleaning was allowed by the Jewish law. (Leviticus 23:22; Deuteronomy 23:25) But the Pharisees believed it was unlawful to do it on the Sabbath because it was harvesting. Harvesting was work. So, they confronted Jesus about it. 

Jesus responded with a story and a theological statement. The story is a reference to Scripture, so Jesus is answering as a rabbi would. 

The story is from 1 Samuel 21. Even though David was anointed to be the next king of Israel, he had to flee from King Saul, who wanted to kill him. David and his men were hungry. They came to the Tabernacle and asked the priest for bread. 

The priest had no bread but what he called the Bread of the Presence (called the shew bread in the King James Version) that was required to be on the gold covered table in the Tabernacle. There were 12 loaves in two stacks. The bread could only be eaten by the priests according to the law. (Leviticus 24:5-9) 

But, the priest gave the bread to David at his request. And, David was Israel’s greatest king and the forerunner of the Messiah. (Jeremiah 23:5) So, there was a precedent for need to be more important than the rule. 

The point Jesus was making was that the Sabbath law was not meant to harm men or women. The Sabbath was made to be a benefit people, not burden them. All of the rules the Pharisees that exceeded the commands of God were a burden and not a benefit. They violated the spirit of the Sabbath. 

In addition, Jesus pointed out his divinity, as the Son of Man, saying he was the lord, or master of the Sabbath, and, therefore, entitled to say what the Sabbath did nor did not require. Jesus, not the Pharisees, had the authority over the Sabbath and its observance.  

Conflict #2


The second conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees about the Sabbath occurs in the synagogue. Jesus was observing the Sabbath by attending the synagogue. The Pharisees set up a conflict, bringing in a man with a withered hand to see if Jesus would heal on the Sabbath. 

The rule of the Pharisees was that you could only treat or heal a person on the Sabbath if the ailment or injury was life threatening. Otherwise, the person was to wait until after the Sabbath to be treated. 

Jesus did not retreat from the test. He told the man to come to him. Then, with the man standing there, asked the Pharisees if it was lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill. The Pharisees did not answer. 

Jesus knew it was right to do good on the Sabbath, whether lawful for the Pharisees or not. Ironically, the Pharisees did not believe that. Yet, the believed it was acceptable for them to plot evil against Jesus on the Sabbath. They thought it acceptable to kill and do harm to Jesus. (4) 

Jesus was both angry and grieved at the hardness of their hearts. (5) Their rules were more important to them than the suffering of the man. Ritual had replaced love and mercy. 

The stage was now set. They plotted to destroy Jesus.