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).
34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:34–35, NKJV)
Multitudes crowded around Jesus to be healed and to hear Him teach (Matt. 12:15; Mark 2:13; 3:7-9; 5:24). Undoubtedly many were caught up in the excitement of the moment. With compassion, Jesus taught, healed, and blessed the crowds (Mark 6:33-34; 8:1-9). Today’s passage teaches us what the Lord requires when we want to come to Him (Matt. 11:28). (1) Self-denial. We must tell ourselves “no” when we desire to go to Jesus. To follow Jesus, we must put away sin, not continue to live in it (Rom. 6:1-2; Gal. 2:20). We must love Jesus more than everyone else, including ourselves (Luke 14:26). (2) Take up our cross. The cross is a symbol of pain, shame, and suffering. To follow Jesus, we must accept the suffering that comes with being His disciple (John 15:18; 1 Pet. 4:12-13). (3) Follow Jesus. We do this by following His teachings. Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed” (John 8:31). Following Jesus is a lifelong commitment, not a momentary exuberance that fades as emotions subside. Jesus said, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). Let us count the cost and pay the price of coming to Jesus and being His disciples (Luke 14:28-32). “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:33).
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36, NKJV).
Why did the house of Israel crucify Jesus? The Messiah they longed for came to them, and Israel rejected Him (John 1:11). The fundamental reason the rulers and the mob crucified the Lord of glory was their unbelief (1 Cor. 2:7-9; Matt. 27:23-25). They did not believe Christ’s report (message) even after seeing His works (Isa. 53:1; John 12:37-40; 5:31-47). Neither did they believe the prophets who foretold of the Messiah (John 5:39-40; Luke 4:16-29). Notably, Peter said, “Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers” (Acts 3:17). They were without knowledge (ignorant), not because the truth was unavailable to them, but because they chose to ignore it. The house of Israel ignored the truth of God and crucified the Savior in their unbelief. (1) They ignored the prophets (Acts 3:18). They ignored the words of Jesus (John 8:37-47). (3) They ignored the works of Jesus (John 10:31-39). Even many rulers who believed refused to confess Jesus to avoid being rejected by men (John 12:42-43). We point out Israel’s unbelief to warn the Israel of God (the church, Gal. 6:16; 1 Tim. 3:15; 1 Pet. 2:4-5). Christians can develop evil hearts of unbelief and fall from the living God (Heb. 3:12). When we sin willfully “after we have received the knowledge of the truth,” a “certain fearful expectation of judgment” and “fiery indignation” awaits (Heb. 10:26-27, 31). Ignorance is not a justifiable defense. Do not ignore the Messiah and His gospel. “Repent and be converted,” and live faithfully to Christ each day (Acts 3:19; 2:37-42).
6 When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. 7 And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.” 8 For He said to him, “Come out of the man, unclean spirit!” 9 Then He asked him, “What is your name?” And he answered, saying, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” (Mark 5:6–9, NKJV)
The man lived a torturous life among the tombs, caves, and mountains. Unclean spirits involuntarily possessed him, and he could not be restrained due to unnatural strength (Mark 5:1-5). The demons who tormented the man knew Jesus, acknowledged He is the Son of God and begged Jesus not to torment them “before the time” (vv. 6-7; Matt. 8:29). Jesus banished the demons to a herd of swine that stampeded into the Sea of Galilee (Mark 5:11-13). Healed and in his right mind, the man wanted to remain with Jesus, who told him to tell others of the compassion he received from the Lord (Mark 5:15, 18-20). This amazing miracle teaches us important lessons of truth about Jesus and the deliverance He can give sinners. (1) Jesus has power over demons. He came to destroy the devil’s works, and His power over demons illustrated that defeat (1 John 3:8). We are assured of the Lord’s strength to stand against the “spiritual host of wickedness” when we put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:10-13). (2) Faith only does not save. The demons “believe—and tremble” but are lost (James 2:19). Do not accept the false doctrine of salvation by faith only (James 2:20-24). (3) Tell others of God’s compassion. Spread the good news of salvation that saves oppressed and lost souls. Its power transforms lives (Rom. 1:16; 12:1-2).
25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” 26 And when the unclean spirit had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, he came out of him. 27 Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” 28 And immediately His fame spread throughout all the region around Galilee (Mark 1:25–28, NKJV).
Why did Jesus work miracles? The answers are in their motive and effect. The motive of compassion is stated repeatedly for His miracles that removed powerfully removed people’s pain and suffering (Mark 1:41; 5:19; 8:2; Matt. 20:33). (It is noteworthy that His compassion also moved Jesus to teach the word of God, Mark 6:34.) The effect of His miracles was to provide evidence that God sent Him and that His teaching is the word of God (Mark 1:27; John 3:2; 5:36; 20:30-31; Acts 2:22). As in today’s passage, the power of His miracles grabbed people’s attention and supported the authority by which He spoke (Mark 1:21-22, 27-28). God does not work miracles through us today (1 Cor. 13:8-10). Instead, the inspired record of first-century miracles shows Jesus is the Christ, and His gospel is God’s word (John 20:30-31; Acts 14:3). Compassion continues to be His disciples’ motive for helping the weak and teaching the gospel to the lost (Luke 10:33-37; Col. 3:12; 1 Pet. 3:8-9; Matt. 9:35-38; Jude 22-23).
30 And their scribes and the Pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, “Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 Jesus answered and said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Luke 5:30–32, NKJV).
Some justify broadening the boundary of fellowship with error and sin by misusing this passage, suggesting Jesus had fellowship with sinners (2 John 9). One example is maintaining fellowship with those who remain in unscriptural remarriages. They opine since Jesus ate and drank with sinners, they can have ongoing fellowship with brethren in sinful relationships and practices. Moral sins and doctrinal errors are tolerated, rationalizing that “everyone is a sinner” and charging “you’re a legalist demanding 100% doctrinal conformity.” Jesus was not a sinner, and He did not endorse sin when He ate with sinners. He taught them the gospel and called them to repentance (vs. 31-32; Luke 15:1-7). And He said we must abide in His word (truth) to be His disciple (John 8:31-32). (Surely that means all truth.) The scribes and Pharisees condemned Jesus and His audience but never saw they needed to repent of their sins. To them, His proximity to sinners meant defilement. Jesus was not condoning sin by teaching sinners to abandon their sin (2 John 10-11). He was with sinners to teach them to repent and follow Him – to “go, and sin no more” by walking in His light of truth (John 8:11-12). Like Jesus, let us teach sinners to repent and walk in the light. We can do this without compromising truth and having fellowship with sin (Eph. 5:11; 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1).
31 Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths. 32 And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority (Luke 4:31–32, NKJV).
Jesus taught in the synagogues of Galilee with the fellowship and endorsement of the Spirit of God (Luke 4:14, 18-21). His teaching so enraged the Nazarenes they tried to kill Him (Luke 4:23-29). Yet, those who heard Him testified and marveled at His “gracious words” (Luke 4:22). In Capernaum, people were astonished at the authority of His words (cf. Matt. 7:29). The Jewish leaders marveled when they heard Him teach in the temple. “How does this Man know letters, having never studied,” they said (John 7:14-15). Jesus spoke what the Father gave Him to teach (John 7:16). His words were authoritative because He spoke heaven’s words (John 12:49-50). Titus, the evangelist, was to teach the gospel “with all authority” (Titus 2:15). These men were not certified by the scribes and lawyers of the day. (The apostles were “uneducated and untrained,” Acts 4:13.) Yet, men presume to have the authority to maintain seminaries to certify a person as acceptable (having authority) to preach and minister the gospel. (Only credentialed preachers will do.) Sadly, some churches of Christ seem to trend in the same direction. (Only the credentialed preacher will do for their pulpits.) It makes you wonder whether a simple fisherman (like Peter) could stand in some pulpits today. The preacher’s authority does not come from himself, other men, or credentials earned from men. The gospel preacher speaks by heaven’s authority (1 Tim. 4:11; 5:7). We do well to remember that and humble ourselves before the authority of God and His word instead of men (Gal. 1:11-12; 1 Cor. 14:37).
Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not (Luke 3:15, NKJV).
John was not the Messiah. He came to “prepare the way of the Lord” (Luke 3:4; Isa. 40:3). As the Lord’s messenger, John preached “a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins,” preparing hearts for the Lord’s coming (Mal. 3:1; Mark 1:4; Luke 1:17). He was the promised Elijah (Mal. 4:5-6; Matt. 11:7-10; 17:10-13). John’s work excited the people’s expectations of the Messiah (Luke 3:15). Sadly, those expectations were often misguided. Many looked for a military leader to deliver Israel from Rome (John 6:15, 26; Luke 24:21). Others expected Him to support the traditions they bound (Mark 7:1-13). What are your expectations of Christ? (1) Some expect faith in Christ to bring them wealth and health (the prosperity gospel); A perverted gospel (1 Cor. 4:11-13; 2 Cor. 12:7-10). Many faithful ones are impoverished (Heb. 11:37-38). (2) Some expect Christ’s grace to allow them to continue living in sin; A perverted gospel (Rom. 5:21-6:2). Grace will not abound when we continue in sin. (3) Some expect Christ to save them by faith only; A perverted gospel (Mark 16:15-16; Heb. 5:8-9). An obedient faith saves, not faith only (James 2:24). (4) Some expect Christ to save them because of their sincere conscience; A perverted gospel (Rom. 10:2). The blood of Christ washes away sins, not sincerity (Acts 23:1; 26:9; 22:16). (5) We should expect Christ to bring salvation to sinners without the doctrines of men. He does (Acts 4:12; 10:34-43; Rom. 1:16-17; Gal. 1:6-12; Col. 2:20-23). Expect Jesus to save you when you believe and follow Him (John 8:12, 31-32; Matt. 7:21-23).
29 “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; 30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation 31 Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, 32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel” (Luke 2:29–32, NKJV).
Simeon confidently waited with hope for the Messiah, the “Consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25). By revelation, the Holy Spirit told him he would not die until he saw the Lord’s Christ (Luke 2:26). Simeon took the child in his arms in the temple and praised God with stirring words that still fill our hearts with joy and hope. Simeon saw God’s promised salvation in the Child Jesus (v. 30; Isa. 51:1-6). The salvation he saw was not national victory over the Roman occupation of their land. God’s salvation for Israel was deliverance from their sins (Matt. 1:21). This salvation was not only for Israel but also for the Gentiles (v. 32). Jesus, the light of the world, would shine His truth brightly upon Israel and the nations (Isa. 9:1-2; Matt. 4:13-17; John 1:4; 8:12). God prepared salvation from the clutches of sin and death (1 Cor. 2:9). The birth of Jesus was an integral part of God’s preparations to redeem us from sin (Heb. 10:5, 10). Our hope in Christ is sure and steadfast because salvation is sure in Him (Heb. 6:19-20; Acts 4:12). Like Simeon, may we never grow weary but “eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20; Heb. 9:28).
29 And while the crowds were thickly gathered together, He began to say, “This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. 30 For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation (Luke 11:29–30, NKJV).
The society in which Jesus lived and worked was evil. Oh, there were exceptions, to be sure. But, many people crowded around Jesus to see wonders but not to be convinced to believe and follow Him. Some followed Him around looking for personal advantages (John 6:26). Their constant clamoring for signs from Jesus showed their unwillingness to believe and follow Him (John 10:24-26). But, God attested His approval of Jesus “by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him” (Acts 2:22; John 5:36). The “sign of Jonah” was yet to occur. His resurrection from the dead would declare His Sonship to the world (Rom. 1:4). Jonah’s three days and night in the great fish illustrated what would happen to Jesus. He would die, be buried, and arise from the dead on the third day (Matt. 12:40). The sign of Jonah’s “resurrection” convinced the Ninevites his message was from God, they repented, and God spared the city from destruction (Jonah 3:1-10). The resurrection of Jesus convinced many to repent toward God, turn from evil, and follow Him (Acts 2:41; 4:4; 10:40-43). It still does. We have a competent, inspired record of His signs and resurrection to convince us to hear, believe, and follow Jesus (John 20:30-31). Don’t seek new miracles to convince you to follow Jesus. His signs have happened. They are recorded in the Scriptures for the world to know, believe, and follow Jesus, the Son of God.