Mark 2 … Consider Him Who Forgives Sins

And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?” (2:5-7).

This is an excellent question; who but God alone can forgive sins?

Consider Him Who Forgives Sins

  • Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, “Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’? 10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, 11 “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.” 12 And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this,” (2:8-12).
    • Why did the scribes not ask any more questions: for example, who but God alone can read the thoughts of men’s hearts; who but God alone can heal a paralytic with just a word; and who but God alone would verify His ability to forgive sins with a miraculous event in the sight of everyone?
    • This Man, the Son of Man, claimed authority on earth to forgive sins, and had He been unable to demonstrate His authority through healing the paralytic, it would have been blasphemy. But to the amazement of all, the paralytic walked and God was glorified.
  • Who but God alone can forgive sins? The answer was clear in His miraculous healing of the paralytic; Jesus is God Who Forgives Sins.
  • And it happened that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him, (2:15).
    • Is it any wonder the sinners followed Him? He had proven His authority to forgive sins when He healed the paralytic. The true wonder is seen in His grace as He allowed Himself to be surrounded with sinners such as these.
  • When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners,” (2:16-17).
    • There was no false pretense in these sinners and tax collectors. We do not read an account of them defending themselves, nor did Jesus rise up to their defense. Rather Jesus confirmed their condition and commended them as the ones who would experience the healing of the Great Physician; for only in recognizing the disease of sin running rampant in the heart, will one seek the only prescribed treatment, Him Who Forgives Sin.
  • “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results. 22 No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins,” (2:21-22).
    • He Who Forgives Sin was doing something new, instituting a forgiveness received by faith alone without man’s contribution to what He alone would do. This new work would require vessels made new by faith to receive Him Who Forgives Sins.

How do we respond to Him Who Forgives Sin?

  • We begin by acknowledging Jesus as God and our only means of salvation and forgiveness of sin.
    • Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me,” (John 14:6).
    • And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved, (Acts 4:12).
    • His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, (Colossians 1:13-14).
  • In humility we come to Him Who Forgives Sin. When we humble ourselves before God we acknowledge and mourn our sin, declaring our need for His great grace to bring forgiveness, healing and the joy of His presence.
    • But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you, (James 4:6-10).
  • Like the men who clawed their way to Jesus for the sake of their friend, let us seek to bring others to Him Who Forgives Sins through sharing the Gospel and our prayers.
    • Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 38 Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest,” (Matthew 9:37-38).
    • And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation,” (Mark 16:15).
    • Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation, (Romans 10:1).
  • In faith we trust the new work He alone is able to do; we place our faith in Him Who Forgives Sins and makes all things new.
    • Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come, (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Let’s Grow Together!

Mark 1 … Consider the Beginning of His Gospel

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You,
Who will prepare Your way; The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
‘Make ready the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight,’”

The Gospel literally means the good news of Jesus Christ. But before the good news was delivered, the way had to be made ready.

His Gospel was to be introduced by His faithful servant, John, declaring the same message Isaiah the prophet had prophesied some seven hundred years previous, the message of repentance and confession to make ready His way and His paths straight.

John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, (1:4).

Consider the Beginning of His Gospel

The Gospel is good news. The Gospel of Jesus Christ promises the coming of His Holy Spirit and His authority and compassion to bring healing, cleansing and salvation for all who believe. But before the good news, there is serious bad news that must be confronted, bad news affecting all of humanity.

The Beginning of His Gospel was initiated by a call to repentance and confession of sin; awaking mankind to their fatal condition and desperate need of redemption, leading to an insatiable desire to leave all else to follow Him, the Only One able to cleanse and heal the deadly disease of sin.

  • Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel,” (1:14-15).
  • And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 19 Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him, (1:17-20).
  • And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” 41 Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed,” (1:40-41).

How do we respond to the Beginning of His Gospel?

  • Before we can experience the Beginning of His Gospel we must understand and agree with the bad news declared by Holy God.
    • For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
      And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
      And all of us wither like a leaf,
      And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away,
      (Isaiah 64:6).
    • …for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23).
  • Agreeing with Him about our sinful condition is the Beginning of His Gospel; it is His kindness leading us to repent and believe.
    •  Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:4).
  • When we consider His Gospel, His gracious offer of salvation, how can we not forsake all else and follow Him?
    • “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:34-36).
  • The Beginning of His Gospel is very bad news; all are doomed to eternal condemnation with no means to remedy man’s sinful state apart from His saving grace. We cannot ignore this critical truth of His Gospel in sharing with others, or in examining our own faith. But the Beginning of His Gospel reaches His faithful fruition in a hope that is sure.
    • This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast… (Hebrews 6:19).
    • Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; (Hebrews 10:23).
  • Let us hold fast to Jesus, our Hope, Who has promised to bring the Beginning of His Gospel to perfect completion, for He is the Beginning and the End.
    • For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus, (Philippians 1:6).
    •  And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son,” (Revelation 21:5-7).
    • “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end,” (Revelation 22:12-13).

Let’s Grow Together!

Consider the Beginning of His Gospel in Mark 1

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You,
Who will prepare Your way; The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
‘Make ready the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight,’”

Click on the link to read the devotion: Mark 1 … Consider the Beginning of His Gospel

Let’s Grow Together!

Numbers 36 … Consider His Indelible Inheritance

Indelible: “impossible to remove or forget; producing marks that cannot be removed.”

It is almost time to take possession of the land and instructions for the allotment of each tribe’s inheritance have been clearly delineated. However, a concern regarding possible transfers of allotted inheritance arose. And the LORD agreed; the concern was valid. His allotted lines were never to be removed or forgotten. His Inheritance would be preserved, treasured and nontransferable; His Inheritance would be Indelible.

Consider His Indelible Inheritance

  • His Indelible Inheritance was to be Preserved
    • “But if they marry one of the sons of the other tribes of the sons of Israel, their inheritance will be withdrawn from the inheritance of our fathers and will be added to the inheritance of the tribe to which they belong; thus it will be withdrawn from our allotted inheritance…Then Moses commanded the sons of Israel according to the word of the Lord, saying, “The tribe of the sons of Joseph are right in their statements. This is what the Lord has commanded concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, saying, ‘Let them marry whom they wish; only they must marry within the family of the tribe of their father,’” (36:3, 5-6).
  • His Indelible Inheritance was to be Treasured
    • “…for the sons of Israel shall each hold to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers,” (36:7).
  • His Indelible Inheritance was to be Nontransferable
    • “Thus no inheritance shall be transferred from one tribe to another tribe, for the tribes of the sons of Israel shall each hold to his own inheritance,” (36:9).

How do we respond to His Indelible Inheritance?

  • By faith we know His Indelible Inheritance preserves us; we are kept by His power and grace alone.
    • Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time, (1 Peter 1:3-5).
  • In obedient love we are to treasure the glorious blessing of His Indelible Inheritance.
    • Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ… 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory, (Ephesians 1:3, 13-14).
  • In persevering prayer we intercede and share the Gospel with those who do not know His truth; for we know we cannot transfer His Indelible Inheritance to any, but all must be saved through faith in Christ Jesus.
    • First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, (1 Timothy 2:1-5).

Finally, let us examine ourselves honestly: are we known as those marked by His Indelible Inheritance?

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another,” (John 13:34-35).

“So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits,” (Matthew 7:17-20).

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; (Galatians 5:22-23).

If we are less than satisfied with the results of our self-examination, let us confess our sin and receive His cleansing power to walk by His Holy Spirit, as one marked by His Indelible Inheritance.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, (1 John 1:9).

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please…25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit, (Galatians 5:16-17, 25).

Oh Father, may we submit to Your Holy Spirit’s indwelling power and daily live as those marked by Your Indelible Inheritance.

Let’s Grow Together!

Numbers 35 … Consider His Cities of Refuge

The cities which you shall give to the Levites shall be the six cities of refuge, which you shall give for the manslayer to flee to;15 These six cities shall be for refuge for the sons of Israel, and for the alien and for the sojourner among them; that anyone who kills a person unintentionally may flee there, (35:6,15).

These things shall be for a statutory ordinance to you throughout your generations in all your dwellings, (35:29).

…for blood pollutes the land… (35:33).

Life is sacred and God’s Law requires the shedding of blood be met with justice; yet in His Holy Justice, His Mercy arises.

Consider His Cities of Refuge

  • His Cities of Refuge Reveal His Mercy
    • “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 11 then you shall select for yourselves cities to be your cities of refuge, that the manslayer who has killed any person unintentionally may flee there. 12 The cities shall be to you as a refuge from the avenger, so that the manslayer will not die until he stands before the congregation for trial,’” (35:10-12).
  • His Cities of Refuge Reveal His Justice
    • “So you shall not pollute the land in which you are; for blood pollutes the land and no expiation can be made for the land for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it, (35:33).
  • His Cities of Refuge Reveal His Holiness
    • “You shall not defile the land in which you live, in the midst of which I dwell; for I the Lord am dwelling in the midst of the sons of Israel,” (35:34).

How do we respond to His Cities of Refuge?

People love to think of God as the God of Mercy, but shun away from the idea of a Loving God being a God of Justice; perhaps a result of an improper grasp of His Holiness.

Numbers 35 presents a pyramid of sorts: His Mercy, revealed at the top, upheld in His Justice, by the foundation of all He is and does, the bedrock of His Holiness.

His Holiness demands His Justice; His Holiness extends His Mercy.

May we have our thinking realigned to consider His Holiness above all else; putting His Justice and His Mercy in proper perspective as we meditate on His Holy Word.

  • His Holiness perfectly revealed in His Son, Christ Jesus
    • since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; (1 Peter 2:21-24).
  • His Justice completely satisfied through Christ Jesus
    • But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus, (Romans 3:21-26).
  • His Mercy richly granted through faith in Christ Jesus
    • But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 2:4-7).

We all have blood on our hands, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23). We are each the manslayer; for our sin sent Jesus to His bloody death on the cross. God’s Mercy, Justice and Holiness are perfectly revealed in the sacrifice of His Son Jesus, Who became for us His City of Refuge.

Have you placed your faith in what Christ Jesus alone accomplished by His death?

Only as we come to Him in faith, seeing Him in His Holiness and understanding what we deserve in His Justice which is only satisfied by His death on the cross, are we set free to partake of His Mercy and return to the place of holy and intimate fellowship with our Holy Creator God.

But after the death of the high priest the manslayer shall return to the land of his possession, (35: 28).

Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; (Hebrews 10:19-23).

Let’s Grow Together!

Numbers 34 … Consider Him Who Sets the Borders

“This shall be your land according to its borders all around,” (34:12).

The excitement is surely mounting as the sons of Israel are on the precipice of taking possession of the land. But before their occupation of the new territory, the borders will be established. There would be no confusion regarding limits or boundaries; the borders are not left to chance or man’s desires. The lines are clearly drawn by Him Who Sets the Borders.

Consider Him Who Sets the Borders

He Sets the Borders: where they reach, (34:4, 11).

He Sets the Borders: where they turn direction, (34:4, 5).

He Sets the Borders: where they terminate, (34:4, 5, 8, 9, 12).

He Sets the Borders: where the lines are drawn, (34:7, 8, 10).

He Sets the Borders: on every side, according to its borders all around, (34:12).

How do we respond to Him Who Sets the Borders?

He Sets the Borders in the lives of His children, of all who have placed their faith in His begotten Son, Jesus.

“I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to Me, ‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Your possession,’”
(Psalm 2:7-8).

He Sets the Borders in the lives of His children. As we meditate on Him Who Sets the Borders, let us cooperate with Him in faith, obedience and thanksgiving.

  • He Sets the Borders: where they reach
    • The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
      surely I have a delightful inheritance,
      (Psalm 16:6 NIV).
  • He Sets the Borders: where they turn direction
    • Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left, (Isaiah 30:21).
  • He Sets the Borders: where they terminate
    • When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things, (1 Corinthians 13:11).
  • He Sets the Borders: where the lines are drawn
    • No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it, (1 Corinthians 10:13).
  • He Sets the Borders: on every side
    • He sent from on high, He took me;
      He drew me out of many waters.
      17 He delivered me from my strong enemy,
      And from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me.
      18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
      But the Lord was my stay.
      19 He brought me forth also into a broad place;
      He rescued me, because He delighted in me,
      (Psalm 18:16-19).

What a glorious privilege to live securely in His Set Borders, to be hemmed in by Him Who Sets the Borders.

“This shall be your land according to its borders all around,” (34:12).

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance,
(Psalm 16:5-6 NIV).

You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain, (Psalm 139:5-6 NIV).

Let’s Grow Together!