10 But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret. 11 Then the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, “Where is He?” 12 And there was much complaining among the people concerning Him. Some said, “He is good”; others said, “No, on the contrary, He deceives the people.” 13 However, no one spoke openly of Him for fear of the Jews (John 7:10–13, NKJV).
Jesus went to Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles privately, without the fanfare his unbelieving brothers advocated (John 7:2-5, 10). He entered the temple and taught during the feast, challenging the people to judge righteously about Him and His work (John 7:14-24). Disagreement over Jesus permeated the city. The Jewish leaders (“the Jews”) looked for Jesus to seize Him (John 7:32, 45). Meanwhile, the general public debated His goodness quietly out of fear of offending their religious leaders (John 7:13). To this day, some say Jesus was a good moral teacher, but not the Son of God. Others say He was a deceiver, a con artist. Some say Jesus was a prophet but not deity. Jesus claimed to be sent from God, teaching God’s will (John 7:17). When one desires to obey God, they will know He and His teaching are from God (John 7:17; 10:37-38). We do not follow Jesus because of who others say He is, but because His words and works declare Him to be the Christ, the Son of the living God (John 7:25-31; 4:41-42; 5:36-39; Matt. 16:16-17).
9 I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations. 10 For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens, and Your truth unto the clouds. 11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth (Psalm 57:9–11, NKJV).
Doubt over what may happen in the future debilitates us. Dread over potential crises hinders clear thinking and decisive decision-making. Anxiety and fear harm one’s faith in God (Phil. 4:4-7). David’s life was being threatened by King Saul when he wrote Psalm 57 and hid in a cave from his would-be assassin (1 Sam. 22:1). Yet, David did not trust in himself or doubt the Lord. “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by” (Ps. 57:1). God’s mercy is higher than the heavens, and His truth touches the clouds, even as His glory fills the earth (Ps. 57:11-12). Instead of doubt, dread, anxiety, and fear, David trusted God’s mercy, justice, and power in times of trouble. For instance, “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise” (Ps. 57:7). Even so, evil lurks nearby and pursues our souls (1 Pet. 5:8). God is merciful to forgive our transgressions as His truth guides our path and executes justice (1 John 1:5-9; 1 Pet. 4:17-19). Let us repent of doubt, dread, anxiety, and fear and replace them with faith in God’s mercy, praise for His steadfastness, and reliance on His truth to vindicate the righteous (2 Thess. 1:3-8).
10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him. 11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart (Psalm 32:10–11, NKJV)!
David concealed his sins from others but could not hide them from God (Ps. 32:3; 2 Sam. 11-12). His futile effort caused distress to the depth of his soul (Ps. 32:3-4). Only when he acknowledged his sin to God did he find relief when God concealed (forgave) his transgression (Ps. 32:5, 1-2; 2 Sam. 12:13). Even now, sorrow attends the wicked, but God’s mercy surrounds those who trust in the Lord (Ps. 32:10). Jesus will give you rest from sin’s burden when you come to Him (Matt. 11:28). Forgiveness in Christ is available, and God wants to save you (Acts 10:34-35; 1 Tim. 2:3-4). When God forgives us, sorry is turned to gladness (Ps. 32:11). Our faith is accounted for righteousness when we (like David) act in faith, repent before God, and obey the gospel from the heart (Rom. 4:5-8; 6:17-18). Come to the Lord in faith and follow His gospel to be saved from your sins (Acts 2:37-41). Christians are privileged and eager to praise God daily with joy and gladness for His merciful grace in Jesus Christ. Trust in the Lord, and His mercy will envelop you. Freed from the burden and death of sin, you may “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice” (Phil. 4:4)!
1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God (Romans 10:1–3, NKJV).
Israel was lost. Only the gospel of Christ, not the Law of Moses, would save them (Rom. 1:16; Acts 4:12). Therefore Paul, himself a Jew who previously persecuted Christians, earnestly desired and prayed for their salvation. He was convinced their zeal for God did not save them. Misguided by their allegiance to the Law, they refused to submit to God’s plan of salvation. Even now, many religious people who are zealous for God contradict the gospel in their zeal (Matt. 7:21-23). We should not confuse passion for God with God’s approval. Scripture says God wants sinners to be saved and “to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). God will not save us from our sins when we are ignorant of the truth of Christ (John 8:24). The example of Israel warns us not to establish our own way of salvation like they did (“their own righteousness,” Rom. 10:3). They believed their salvation was through the Law of Moses and rejected “the righteousness of faith” revealed in the gospel (Rom. 10:4-8). We must be careful not to make a similar error. We must submit to God’s righteousness by faith in Christ and obedience to His gospel (Rom. 10:3, 9-13; 6:17-18). Then we can be confident of our salvation, regardless of whether we are a Jew or a Gentile (Rom. 8:1-2; Gal. 3:26-29).
And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven (Acts 2:5, NKJV).
Devout men gathered in Jerusalem to observe the feast of weeks (Pentecost, Acts 2:1; Lev. 23:15-21). Yet, the apostle Peter indicted these devout Jews along with the house of Israel for crucifying the Messiah (Acts 2:36). Devout means to be cautious and circumspect, hence “pious,” religious. The gospel teaches Christians to be devout in faith and life (Eph. 5:15; James 1:26-27). Consider what the Scriptures say about being devout. (1) Being devout does not necessarily mean one is saved. These devout men were guilty of crucifying Jesus (Acts 2:23). Cornelius was devout yet lost without the gospel (Acts 10:2; 11:13-14). (2) Devout people are convicted of their sins when they hear the word of God. They were “cut to the heart,” pierced to the quick, when the word of God exposed their sin. (3) Devout people want to know what to do to be forgiven by God of their sins. Therefore, they said, “Men and brethren, what shall we do” (Acts 2:37)? (4) Devout people gladly accept the gospel and obey it to be saved. “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them” (Acts 2:41). (5) Devout Christians will continue to follow the apostles’ teaching (Acts 2:42). Let us be careful to hear, accept, and obey the gospel, being devout in word and deed each day.
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living (Psalm 27:13, NKJV).
The faith of David before Goliath is legendary (1 Sam. 17). His faith continues to encourage God’s people. Psalm 27 is one such source of encouragement. (1) David’s faith was firm in the Lord. Even when the wicked came against him to devour him and if an army encamped against him, he would not be fearful but confident. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?” (Ps. 27:1, 2-3) (2) David’s faith informed his desires. “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple” (Ps. 27:4). (3) David’s faith caused him to seek the upright paths taught by God. “Teach me Your way, O Lord, and lead me in a smooth path because of my enemies” (Ps. 27:11). The way of righteousness delivers the faithful from the adversary’s lies and deceit (Ps. 27:12). (4) David’s faith endured trials with patience, courage, and trust in God’s power to bless (Ps. 27:14). He waited on the Lord, knowing he would see God’s blessings in his life (Ps. 27:13). Like David, Christians see God’s blessings with eyes of faith, both in the “land of the living” and in the eternal realms where death is no more (Mark 10:28-30).
16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law (Galatians 5:16–18, NKJV).
In today’s passage, walking in the Spirit is equivalent to being led by the Spirit (v. 16, 18). Being led by the Spirit is a matter of free will, a choice to live by faith. The Spirit does not force Himself upon anyone. Being led by the Spirit is tantamount to living in the Spirit. By crucifying the flesh with its passions and bearing the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-25). Again, this is a choice of faith we make, a life we choose to live. The Spirit of God leads Christians when we hear (and obey) the gospel (the faith, Gal. 3:1-2; 1:11, 23). The Holy Spirit revealed the gospel, confirmed its validity through miracles, and inspired its proclamation (Heb. 2:1-4; Eph. 3:3-5). When we follow the Scriptures, we are following the Spirit of God. Do not expect the Spirit to act upon you in some way distinct from His word. He is speaking through His word to you and me. We walk in the Spirit when we submit to the gospel of Christ (Rom. 8:1-2, 5-8). See this choice of faith to follow the word of God and live by the Spirit in Romans 8:13, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” We are alive in Christ and are led by the Spirit when we choose to live according to the gospel He revealed.
33 But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him. 34 And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things (Mark 6:33–34, NKJV).
As the crowds pressed around Jesus and His apostles, finding time to rest a while (or even eat) was difficult (Mark 6:31-32). Instead of being anxious and upset at the people for interrupting their search for a place to retreat, Jesus was moved with compassion when He saw the multitude (v. 34). He saw them as untended, scattered, and wandering sheep. Consequently, Jesus began teaching them many things. We correctly conclude Jesus knew the solution to this problem was hearing God’s word. Why? Because faith comes by hearing (and receiving) the word of God (Rom. 10:17; Luke 6:46). Teaching God’s word to feed lost, struggling souls is an act of compassion (Matt. 9:35-38). Most likely, lost souls do not know what they truly need. Jesus did not begin by addressing what people thought they needed (i.e., their “felt need”). Instead, he gave them what they actually needed, the word of God, that fed their souls the food “which endures to everlasting life” (John 6:27, 33-35, 44-48). More than physical food, we need the teachings of Christ to lead us to green pastures, still waters, and paths of righteousness that restore our soul (Psalm 23:1-3; Matt. 11:28-30). Let us show His compassion and teach others His word of salvation and eternal life.
And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all (Luke 6:19, NKJV).
We are told of “a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed” (Luke 6:17-18). Significantly, “power went out from” Jesus that healed them all. These healings were not the trickery of an illusionist or a scam artist. Divine power cured the sick and banished tormenting spirits. It is not lost on us that Jesus knew when healing power went out from Him. Jesus knew a woman with faith touched His garment and was healed even as the throng pressed around Him (Mark 5:27-34). “But Jesus said, ‘Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out of Me” (Luke 8:46, 43-48). Here is today’s lesson: God knows when even one sinner reaches out to Him in faith, repents, and obeys His word for salvation (Luke 15:3-7; Mark 16:15-16; Heb. 5:9). He is aware of each of us and saves us one at a time. God’s saving power in Christ goes out from heaven’s throne and heals each lost soul with divine forgiveness (Luke 15:17-24). God cares and knows your plight. He loves you so much His Son died for your salvation (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8). Like the woman whose faith compelled her to touch the garment of Jesus for physical healing, may each of us reach out to Jesus in faith, trusting Him to heal our souls from eternal death (Rom. 6:1-4, 16-18, 22-23).
37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. 38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. 40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4:37–40, NKJV)
After a full day of teaching many parables to “a great multitude,” Jesus and His apostles crossed the Sea of Galilee at night (Mark 4:1-2, 35-36). While Jesus slept, a sudden and violent storm arose, endangering them as their boat took on water. In fear, the apostles woke up Jesus asking, “Do you not care that we are perishing?” Fear can grip us when facing unexpected dangers, traumas, and uncertain outcomes. Jesus calmed the storm, then challenged His apostles to see their fearful doubts as a lack of faith (v. 40). The cares of this world (physical ailments, financial pressures, etc.), if allowed, can press us to the edge of fear and faithlessness. Our Adversary tempts us to think God does not care “that we are perishing.” But Christ’s power over nature secures our faith in Him to face life’s storms (Mark 4:41). God Himself has said, “‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me (Heb. 13:5-6)?’” Let us strengthen our faith in the Lord in uncertain times. None of these things separate the faithful from the love of Christ (Rom. 8:31-39).