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The Power and Pity of Jesus

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
June 13, 2023 4:00 am

The Power and Pity of Jesus

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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Mark has one purpose, and that is to make clear to everybody that this man Jesus is God incarnate. No human ever makes that confession until a centurion watching the crucifixion of the cross, a Gentile outside the nation of Israel, says, truly this man was the Son of God. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. Perhaps you're going through a trial right now, and you're not sure why God is allowing such pain. Or maybe you're not suffering now, but you want to be ready for the inevitable trial. Either way, you'll want to stay tuned today as John MacArthur continues his study called Lessons for a Modern-Day Disciple, today showing you how Jesus responded to the sick and suffering He encountered. It's a practical, encouraging truth that will help you respond to grief in a Christ-like way. So let's get to the lesson.

Here's John. Open your Bible again, if you will, to the fifth chapter of Mark. And in the light of what we've heard from John 9 and what we've heard from Job 1, we know that God is in our suffering, that the glory of God is manifest in blindness. And as I, along with you, heard again the wonderful reiteration of the fact that God allowed all that came upon Job to come to vindicate saving faith and to prove the doctrine of eternal security, that saving faith can't be shattered even if Satan unleashes everything he's got because it's a permanent faith that God grants. In looking at the state of the world and tsunamis and earthquakes and catastrophes and disasters and all of that, one might be prone to think that God is harsh. Is this how we define our God? Do we give Him the privilege of doing all of that as the sole understanding that we have of Him in a fallen world?

The answer to that is no. When Moses was commissioned by God, called by God, he said, look, I'm not going to be a leader of your people unless you go with me. And the Lord said, I'll go with you. In Exodus 33, Moses said, you've got to prove it to me. Show me your glory.

I want to see it. And the Lord said, I'll let all My graciousness and all My compassion pass before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

The greatest manifestation of the compassion of God, the mercy of God, the tenderheartedness of God is the incarnation of Jesus Christ. There would have been many, many ways that Jesus could have demonstrated His deity. I mean, He could have done some amazing tricks.

He could have taken off like a helicopter into space, flown around the city and come down to a soft landing. In fact, the devil thought that would be a great idea. Perhaps even more directly, He could have satisfied the demands of the Pharisees and the scribes who no matter what Jesus did, none of which they ever denied, nor could they deny, completely ignored all His miracles and insisted if they were to believe in Him, He had to do signs in the sky. He really did need to do that. He needed to do something with the sun and something with the moon, as the prophets had said, and maybe rearrange some constellations with which they were so very familiar. Now there could have been so many things that Jesus did miraculously and powerfully that would have been, you know, unarguable evidences of His divine power. But what He chose to do was to heal sick people, deliver demon-possessed people and raise the dead.

Why? Because along with the power came compassion. This is a display of mercy.

This isn't necessary. This is the heart of God manifest in Christ. He showed His power over demons. He showed His power over disease.

He showed His power over death. The theological reason for suffering always goes back to divine sovereignty, that God has a purpose in it. But even God's response to suffering is compassion, kindness, mercy. You can give them the sovereign answer from the pulpit. You can tell them their cancer is for the glory of God. You can tell them their suffering is because of a divine purpose and you will be right, but you had better be there to wipe away their tears because God would have you be there because He only came into the world one time and it was one massive display of compassion. Sure He stopped the wind, stopped the waves, fed the crowds.

But when it comes to miracles in a category other than delivering people from the horrors of their suffering, that's about it. It was early in my ministry here, I remember the conversation very well. Just after we built this auditorium, I was standing right over there and a father came up to me and said, my nine-year-old boy has a brain tumor.

We just found out, it's terminal, he's going to die. And he was heartbroken. The next few times I saw that nine-year-old boy in church, he had a little...one of those plastic bicycle hats on to protect him because he would lose his balance over that and he would fall and harm himself. And I remember talking to that dad many times and put my arm around him and around the little boy as the weeks went on and it was only a few months that I did his funeral. And it was just a devastating, devastating blow to that father in particular. And I was there toward the end and then I was there at the funeral and I had spent time with him leading up to that. Some months passed and it was another Sunday and I remember it so vividly. He came up to me and he said, Pastor, I haven't heard from you for five months.

Have you forgotten me? It was like a knife to my heart. The funeral is not the end of the responsibility to bear the grief, to carry the cares and the sorrows of your people. You don't sign off at the funeral. That was a tremendously important lesson to me, so important in people's hearts that even when you can explain that God has a purpose, you be there to show sympathy. As the gospel of Mark unfolds, Mark has one purpose and that is to make clear to everybody that this man Jesus is God incarnate. That's what he says in the first verse of the first chapter, the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God. This whole thing is about acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God. However, nobody makes that confession, nobody until the fifteenth chapter and the thirty-ninth verse. There is a confession that He's the Christ, but nobody says you're the Son of God except demons. We know who you are, the Holy One of God. Everywhere He went He ran into demon-possessed people and they would all say the same thing.

The demons always said the same thing. I don't know that they wanted to say it, they couldn't help from saying it, they were terrified in His presence. No human ever makes that confession until a centurion watching the crucifixion of the cross, a Gentile outside the nation of Israel says, truly this man was the Son of God. It takes a Gentile Roman soldier finally to make the confession in Mark's gospel. Believing that He was the Son of God was the result of the display of divine power and divine compassion that He put on. When you go through any of the gospels, you walk with Jesus and you see this, you have this incomparable experience of taking your congregation back and living day after day after day with Jesus.

And what strikes me as I've now gone through Matthew for eight years, Luke for ten years, one a couple of years, then back through Matthew to write four commentaries for five more years and the process of writing the commentary on John, another two years, and back through Luke and I'm in volume 2 for the last two years and preaching now for two years through Mark and I've got three more volumes of Luke and two more of Mark and I cannot get enough. He is the most compelling person there is, ever been. And what strikes me about Him is this compassion that is demonstrated. Do you think He knew the sovereign purposes of God that were unfolding? Of course He did. Of course He did.

And yet it is He, the God, the very God who inflicts the pain within the purposes of His providence, who is there to catch the sufferer. Unlike many religious leaders, Jesus didn't seclude Himself. His entire ministry was spent in public.

He didn't have an office, didn't have a study, didn't have a home, didn't have a church. His entire ministry was in the street, in the field, in other people's homes, in synagogues, on the road, on the sea with only occasional retreats into isolation to restore His energy, rest His body and fellowship privately with His disciples and give Him the inside scoop on the parables. But He always came back to the crowds.

The first thing I want to tell you about Jesus, looking at this text, is His accessibility, His accessibility. When Jesus had crossed over again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around Him and so He stayed by the seashore. You know why He stayed by the seashore?

They would push Him all the way down to the shore and He would get in a boat, they would push the boat off the shore so He could get a little space between Himself and the people. And the crowds were so massive, the water acted as a basic enhancer of His voice. He always came back to the crowds. And you can show in the gospels, the crowds were so massive in the tens of thousands that the people were crushing each other. And they were so relentless that it was even difficult for Jesus and His followers to eat a meal.

They never let Him alone. Chapter 6 verse 31 says, they kept Him from eating. They hounded Him, they dogged Him, they crushed Him, they endangered Him. In Nazareth, they tried to throw Him off the cliff and stone Him to death, but He never left the crowds. Now verse 21 says, He had been across on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, it's about six miles across the top from Capernaum over to the other side. He had gone over there ...a very interesting trip over there, by the way, because in the process of that trip, He stilled the wind and the sea and they got over there and they met a man full of apparently thousands of demons. You remember that story, right?

A man came running down the hill and Jesus cast all the thousands of demons out of him into a herd of six thousand pigs who did a swine dive and committed suicide off the cliff. Well that's where He's been. That's where He's been. I think the disciples thought He was going over there to get a rest, but it didn't work out like that.

It comes back. He wouldn't let the demon-possessed men who had been stark naked, scaring the wits out of everybody, tried to chain Him and couldn't do that. And what I love about that is after the man came to Christ and was delivered from the demons, and obviously Jesus spoke to him more about the Kingdom, He embraced the truth, embraced Christ and was the first missionary. So you don't have to know a whole lot to be sent to your people to tell them about Jesus, that's what He did to them. Got in the boat, came with His disciples back to the other side by Capernaum, and as always a large crowd is gathered there waiting for Him. They wanted help for their pain. They wanted help for their suffering. They brought all the people who needed to be healed and all the people who didn't need to be healed came to see the people who needed to be healed get healed. He is like a hero. He is like a celebrity in the history of the world.

There has never been anything like this. In fact, if you remember the words of John 9, they said, the blind man said, in the history of the world there's never been a blind man who has been given sight. Well Jesus banished illness from Israel during the time of His ministry virtually. They are a fickle mob, however, they are superficial. But in the midst of this typical fickle mob numbering perhaps in the thousands waiting there for Him, there are two whose faith is real. Their story is really a benediction to us and it's a model of compassion. Two of them, a man and a woman, one rich, one poor, one respected, one rejected, one honored, one shamed, one leading the synagogue, the other excommunicated from the synagogue, both with needs, one with a twelve-year-old daughter dying, the other with a twelve-year diseased suffering. You remember Mary had said in her Magnificat about her son the Savior that He would bring down rulers and exalt those who were humble. Well they were both there, the rulers and the humble, the ruler and the outcast.

Well let's meet the ruler. Verse 22, one of the synagogue officials named Jairus, and generally there were between four and seven of these, they were not a part of the clerical system, they weren't Pharisees, they weren't rabbis, they weren't priests, they were lay people who were given responsibility for management of the synagogue operation. But they would need to be revered men and men of stature and religious men and men that the folks would follow. So here is one of them by the name of Jairus which is a Greek form of the Old Testament word Jair which is the name of one of the sons of Manasseh.

He came up and on seeing him, he fell at his feet. This is really politically incorrect. If you're a synagogue official, the synagogues are primarily under the control of the scribes and Pharisees. They are the gurus of the populist religion. The Sadducees, they don't get much past the outside wall of the temple. They operate their liberalism in the institutions and the ceremonies of the temple and they get filthy rich by bilking the people out of their money, overcharging them for all the sacrifices and giving them bad exchanges on their money when they force them to certain coinages to make their offerings. They're sort of the political hierarchy. They're content to stay in Jerusalem, make their money, operate their systems.

The Pharisees and the scribes, they're the ones scattered throughout the villages and towns and they're the ones that basically oversee the local religion which is their system of self-righteous works. Well these men would be beholden to the religious establishment and for a synagogue ruler to come and prostrate himself at the feet of Jesus is definitely putting himself in a very difficult position with the establishment. Matthew and Mark say, he worshiped...he worshiped.

And the word can mean that. Verse 23, so we know what his attitude toward Jesus is, you only do this to a superior, right? You only bow down to a superior, done before a king, or revered authority, or someone perceived as holy, or known as holy. You say, well how does Jairus know anything about Jesus? Well we don't have all the story, but Jairus was a synagogue official and maybe Jairus was there the day recorded in chapter 1 verses 21 to 28 when Jesus showed up at the synagogue and was the teacher that day in the synagogue because they had a custom of letting visiting rabbis teach and that was the day that the demon-possessed man was sitting in the synagogue. Demons love to be in synagogues and liberal churches and all that kind of stuff and false churches. They live there, you know, they live there.

But they don't want to blow their cover. But when Jesus shows up, they're so scared and panicked that they can't help but scream and so it says in chapter 1 verse 23, there was a man in the synagogue with an unclean spirit and he screamed in the middle of it, what business do we have with each other? Jesus of Nazareth, have you come to destroy us?

I know who you are, the Holy One of God. Whoa, maybe Jairus was, you know, running the service that day. Jesus rebuked him and said, be quiet and come out of him, threw the man into convulsions and everybody was amazed.

They were also amazed at his new teaching with authority. So maybe Jairus was there that day and he began to wonder about this man and the Spirit of God worked on his heart, maybe he trailed Jesus, he did these amazing things in Capernaum for months and months and all around Galilee. But he bows down, he worships him. Verse 23, he implored him earnestly saying, my little daughter is at the point of death, please come and lay your hands on her so that she will get well and live. Do you see any doubt in that verse? I don't see any doubt in that verse.

You know, maybe it will happen, no, no, no. Mark actually gives his words, my little daughter is at the point of death. You come, you lay hands on her, she'll get well, she'll live.

I've seen what you can do. A little later in the story which we'll see, the word comes that she's not at the point of death anymore, she's dead. And the messenger says she's dead. No sense in wasting Jesus' time. He does not budge on his faith in what Jesus is capable of doing.

He is a rare man in the upper echelons of Jewish religion, few believed savingly in Jesus. Well Mark says in verse 24, Jesus went off with him. By the way, Luke says he had only one daughter and she was twelve years old. We don't get that in this story till over in verse 42. But Luke early in the story, the parallel passage, says he had only one daughter, she was about twelve. So she was born maybe when Jesus was around twenty. And when you get to be twelve, you're really at the flower of life, right?

About to get married, maybe at thirteen, fourteen, start your family. This little girl is dying, she's dying. There's no future for her, there's no hope for her. But this man knows for sure that Jesus has the power to heal her.

And even, as he indicates, later to raise her from the dead. So first of all, his accessibility. He was there. He was in the middle where you could get to him.

I mean, sometimes we think we're more important than we are, don't we? Accessibility. Let's just take a second step and call it availability. He was accessible, that's just a general term, meaning he could get at him.

Available takes it a deeper step. So in verse 24, he went off with him. He's got crowds of tens of thousands. He goes off with him. And as he goes, it's not easy, a large crowd is following him and pressing in on him. No ivory tower that Jesus is in, no monastery, no hierarchy, no hidden place. He pitched his tent with people, didn't he? He really did. I love it in Matthew 19 where all the little children come to him and they want to chase him away, remember?

Don't chase them away. Or Matthew 15 where he goes up on a hill and he just sits on the hill and the mobs come and he starts engaging himself with individuals, one after another after another. And in Matthew 15 it talks about how he healed this and healed that and healed this and healed that and healed this. I cannot even imagine the relentless demands of people on someone who could do that.

It's absolutely stunning. Jairus' heart was breaking. His only hope was that Jesus would come and heal his daughter. He had no doubts that he had the power to do it.

What drives this availability, this accessibility? I think it's the compassion of our Lord as our High Priest. We know Him to be touched with...what?...the feelings of our infirmities. Come unto Me, all you labor and heavy laden, I'll give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me for I'm meek and lowly and you'll find rest for your souls. I'm not like the Pharisees. I don't bind heavy burdens on people and never do anything to help them carry them.

Very opposite. I love that text in Matthew 12, 20 borrowed from Isaiah 42, a bruised reed he will not break and smoking flax he will not quench. Isn't that beautiful?

That's so vivid. A bruised reed he will not break. The shepherd would be out, take a reed and they would turn it into a little flute and they would play it, but after you blew it a while, the saliva would go in and the little reed would bend and you'd break it and throw it away and get another one. He doesn't do that. He doesn't throw people away.

Smoking flax, you know, where the wick is so small that it can't rise up enough above the oil to stay lit, gets thrown away. He doesn't do that to the people that are kind of down to the last flicker. That's John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary, here on Grace To You. The message you just heard is from his series, Lessons for a Modern-Day Disciple.

Well John, today's message was on Mark chapter 5 and no matter where we go in the New Testament, I can find a sermon you preached because you spent 42 years preaching through the entire New Testament and the bulk of that time was in the Gospels. And yet I've noticed that even after you spent all that time in the Gospels, you still go back to them again and again because what they reveal to us about Christ really is inexhaustible. Well yeah, I mean Christ is the featured person in divine revelation. Obviously the Father and the Holy Spirit are a reality, but the Bible is directly revealing God's salvation in Christ.

He's the most compelling person who ever walked this earth. The Old Testament talks about the anticipation of his coming, the Gospels describe his life and ministry, the Epistles proclaim the theology and doctrine of what he accomplished, the book of Revelation, consummation of his glory and his reign over the whole earth and in eternity. So Christ is the main character. Christ is all in all for the believer as well. So you can never get very far away from Christ if you want to be faithful in preaching.

Paul actually said, I am determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I find myself even now as I prepare for a new series going back to the Gospels because of the power of the person of Christ. I want to mention something that I think would make a massive difference in the life of anyone who tackles it and that is the MacArthur New Testament commentary series. In the 42 years from 1969 to 2011, I taught through the entire New Testament. As a result of that teaching, I was able to go back and write commentaries, four volumes on Matthew, four volumes on Luke, two volumes on Mark and two volumes on John. And they go into minute detail of every phrase and every word in those Gospels, and they reveal the majesty and the glory of Christ. If you're new to the MacArthur New Testament commentary series, let me suggest that you start in one of those Gospel books, maybe the Gospel of John. Whether you use the commentary for sermon preparation or devotional reading, you're going to benefit from having these volumes in your own library.

Right, friend, your joy, your spiritual growth, and your love for the Lord rest on how well you know the person and work of Christ, and so I encourage you to pick up the two-volume commentary on the book of Mark and dive deeply into the life of our Savior. Order your set today. The two Mark commentaries cost $38, $19 per volume, with free shipping. To order, call toll-free, 855-GRACE, or visit our website, GTY.org. And as John said, you'll enjoy a steep discount if you order the entire 34-volume commentary set, which includes a helpful index of the entire series. Again, to order a single commentary volume or the entire MacArthur New Testament commentary series, call 855-GRACE or shop online at GTY.org. And when you visit GTY.org, make sure to take advantage of all the free Bible study resources that are available. That includes more than 3,500 of John's sermons, all of them free to download in MP3 or transcript format. You can search the sermon vault by topic, by passage of Scripture, or by date preached. Just log on and start learning life-changing truth.

Our web address again, GTY.org. Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace To You staff, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for spending some time in God's Word with us today, and invite a friend to listen with you tomorrow for an encouraging look at the power and compassion of Christ. It's another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-13 06:11:07 / 2023-06-13 06:21:23 / 10

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