Introduction: Welcome to Expound our weekly worship and verse by verse study of the Bible. Our goal is to expand your knowledge of the truth of God as we explore the Word of God in a way that is interactive, enjoyable, and congregational.
Skip Heitzig: Father, we believe that you have given us a written disclosure of yourself, a revelation of the true God without error preserved because you're sovereign, you're able to do that; preserved throughout history so that we in time and space have the record of the will of eternal God given to us in both the Old and the New Testament; seen most particularly in the life of Jesus Christ by his words and example, the culmination of all revelation.
We give you our hearts. We give you our time because you and you alone, you know the depths of who we are, what we're going through, what we have been dealing with so far this week, what we're thinking in our minds, and wrestling and struggling with; we give you permission to speak into our lives and to change them for your glory. And as we hunker down and study verse by verse, thought by thought, going from story to story, we pray that you'd bless that in Jesus' name, amen.
We are dealing with the miraculous power of the Lord Jesus Christ when he was on earth. The word miracle is a word that I have heard tossed about, I think gratuitously and wrongly. I hear it a lot—"Oh, that's a miracle,"—when it's not really a miracle. Because it happens every day; it's according to natural law. Oh, every baby born is a miracle. Oh, every sunrise and sunset is a miracle. No, it's not. It's according to natural law; it happens every day.
Now, you couldn't pull it off. You couldn't do it on your own strength or in your own power, but those aren't miracles. A miracle is the intervention into natural law. It's where natural law, what normally happens is interrupted.
Because that is so, back in the seventeen hundreds a Scottish philosopher named David Hume who was a skeptic and was vociferous against Christianity, just by what he observed had a rebuttal against the miraculous. What David Hume said—and I remember studying him and I was taken by him for a while. He said a miracle is said to be the intervention into natural law by the supernatural. However, he continued, as we observe our world, we see an uninterrupted chain of natural events without supernatural or divine disruption.
So that just as far as we observe every person every day, corpses once they're dead—people, once they become corpses, they don't resuscitate. Water cannot displace the weight of a human being if you try to stand upright, unless that's displaced by a boat or some other means. That's what happens; that's what we observe in our world. So his conclusion is there is no such thing as the resurrection from the dead. There is no such thing as somebody walking on the water. Those things don't happen. We never observe them in the course of natural human history; therefore, there is no such thing as the miraculous as spoken of in the Bible.
Now, I agree with him and I disagree with him. I wholeheartedly disagree with him, but I agree that a miracle is the intervention into natural occurrences, natural law. But to say that because we don't see them, they can't exist, therefore there is no God, is ludicrous because there are still some recorded and observable miracles today. He may have never seen them.
But let me throw something out at you. NASA was able to launch a four and a half million pound space shuttle into outer space—four and a half million pounds. I don't know if you've ever seen the size of one of those space shuttles, but when you look at it, you're going, "Now, natural law says that thing ain't going nowhere." Natural law, the law of gravity says that four and a half million pound puppy is earthbound; it's not moving anywhere. But it does. That's because natural law is superseded by other laws.
The law of gravity can be superseded by the law of aerodynamics, the law of thrust in combination with that. So you can take seven and a half million pounds of thrust which is what it takes to take a space shuttle into space, combined with the design of that aircraft, and that which natural law says isn't going to move, moves quite rapidly above the atmosphere into outer space. Now, we are so ready to ascribe that power to NASA; why aren't we willing to ascribe that power to a creator, to God? Why can't he establish natural law, but then whenever he decides just supersede natural law from time to time?
There are records of it in the Old Testament sporadically; there's the record of it in the New Testament with the life of Jesus continually in spades. What is humanly impossible is divinely simple. God simply enacts his own laws to supersede the natural laws he's put into place. If NASA can do it, and if Boeing can do it, and all the airline companies every day around the world can do it, certainly a all-powerful God can do it, and he has done it.
Years ago when I lived in Huntington Beach, California, I had a neighbor who had his basement; he had the coolest basement, because the entire basement was an HO train set. I mean, he had a city here, and a city there, and mountains. And he spent an enormous amount of money laying track on this platform, and we would go down in there and he would show me. He loved to show me how his trains were set up.
And we would be from afar, looking from afar at the train moving through the town and the mountains and the valleys from a distance. But every now and then this conductor would step into the scene and pick up a car and move it back on track, or switching gears on another track, or moving things around; from time to time he would do that.
So God establishes natural law. The universe goes on every single day accordingly, in rhythm, in time, expectedly. You know in advance when the sun's going to rise and set, etcetera. But from time to time God steps into the set and moves things around; that's the miraculous, and we're dealing with several of them in the Gospel of Mark.
So here's where we left off, and here's where we come in. There was a local ruler of a synagogue in Capernaum. His name was Jairus. He had a twelve-year-old daughter that was sick to the point of death, but she was still alive. This synagogue ruler Jairus approached Jesus and begged him to have Jesus come and heal his daughter. So Jesus is on the way, on the way to the house of Jairus the ruler of the synagogue.
So here you have a high-ranking official in Judaism. Not a priest, not an official clergyman, but in the clergy ranking as somebody who superintended all of the affairs of the local house of worship who believed that Jesus was powerful enough to heal his daughter. He's a desperate man. He comes and Jesus is now coming with him. So we find out that Jesus is approachable. You could walk up to him any time and easily approach him. You didn't have to, like, take a number, or call Peter first. You could just go up, see Jesus. He was approachable.
But there's something else about Jesus that I think bothered this ruler—he's interruptible. He can be going in one direction, but allow himself to be interrupted by another issue, which he was. While he was on the way to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, Jairus' house, a woman who had a flow of blood, the Bible tells us, a twelve-year long flow of blood. Contrast the twelve-year-old daughter, the girl who gave happiness and sunshine to her father for twelve years; contrast that with disease that brought ravaging and pain to this woman for twelve years.
She probably had a condition known as a gynecological fistula, something quite common in parts of the world. It's rampant in Africa. It's done by an easy fix and easy surgery today; it was quite common back then. Because of the laws of Leviticus, she would be rendered unclean. She wouldn't be able to hang around socially with people. But she came into the crowd where Jesus was and there were throngs of people pressing at him from every direction. And she touched just the edge of his robe, the hem of his garment.
She knew that if Jesus touched people, people would be healed. She thought, "It'll work in reverse. If somebody touches him, they'll be healed." So she had that faith, and she set that as a point of contact, released her faith. She said, "I know when I touch the hem of his robe, this thing's gone. I'm going to be cured." She did, and she was. Something interesting happened.
Verse 30, "Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that power had gone out of him, turned around in the crowd and said, 'Who touched my clothes?' "That's a fascinating question, because everyone in that crowd is clamoring, pushing, barraging Jesus. And he says, "Who touched my clothes?" Now, the disciples are going to go, "Wha-wha-what? What do you mean, 'Who touched your clothes?' Everybody touched you. You're in a crowd." It's like being in a crowd at Disneyland or opening day for an Apple product at the Apple Store. And in that crowd pushing to get in the front door, you shout out, "Who touched my clothes?" Huh?
It says that Jesus knew that power had gone out of him. That's interesting to me; he could feel power leaving him. Without getting into exactly what that's all about, can I just say that evidently, and we don't really realize this, all of the giving, all of the ministry that Jesus provided to people cost him tremendously. And ministry does cost people. Jesus, it says, from time to time got totally physically exhausted. He had to even be carried, carried into a boat. He just knocked out. He fell asleep in the storm, man. He felt power going out of him.
I remember years ago talking to Dr. Billy Graham about his early crusades. And when they used to have crusades, they weren't three-day crusades, they were thirty-day crusades. Every night for a month, or two months in some cases, he would preach. And he talked about the early New York crusade and the early London crusades how he felt like a portion of his life was taken away from him physically during those events that he never ever recovered from.
And I found that fascinating that that kind of ministry would do that. But then I've heard and I've read a couple of studies done by those in the medical profession that just preaching for one hour can be exhausting equivalent to a six-hour workday for a professional or an eight-hour workday for a blue-collar worker. It takes the energy out that much, just that kind of mental wrangling and the capacity it requires. So I do understand in part, and Dr. Graham certainly understands much more, but not to the degree of Jesus. He felt power going out of him.
"And he said, 'Who touched my clothes?' But his disciples said to him, 'You see the multitude thronging you, and you say, "Who touched me"?' And he looked around to see her who had done this thing. But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her," she was instantly cured, "came and fell down before him and told him the whole truth."
You have to realize that when Jesus said, "Who touched my clothes," it's not because he didn't know, and he needed the information, but he was trying to draw her out and get this confession. "I did it! I did it! I'm sorry." He wanted to deal with her in the open, so he drew her out. "And he said to her, 'Daughter' "—love that—" 'Your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.' "
"While he was still speaking, some came from the ruler of the synagogue's house who said, 'Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?' " Let those words just sink in for a moment. You who are parents of little girls or little boys, or grandparents, you can imagine what that would sound like, the finality of that sentence. Here was this man hoping, hoping, and probably, wouldn't you say, a little impatient. "Jesus, come!" "I'm coming."
Now he gets interrupted, and Jesus makes a big deal of it, "Who touched me?" He's going, "Who cares?" "Well, somebody was healed." "Who cares!" He's probably standing on one leg, and then standing on another leg. Then kind of—well, he didn't have a watch—looking at his sundial [laughter], thinking, "There's still hope; there's still hope." Then the blood was drained out of his face as somebody said, "She's dead. Too late." They knew it was too late; he knew it was too late. I rephrase that—he thought it was too late probably not knowing who he's dealing with.
You have to understand death is an enemy. The Bible says in Hebrews chapter 2; verse 15 that the entire human race is under the bondage of the fear of death. The Bible calls it the last great enemy of mankind. There's this universal fear of death that people have. And this guy, along with all the others, thought once you're dead, you're dead. Like David Hume—corpses, once corpses don't resuscitate. It's over. She's dead. "Why trouble the Teacher any further?"
Have you ever had people try to discourage you from your faith in the Lord? You trust in him. He'd been trusting in him. "Uh, don't even bother him anymore." People would ridicule your faith: "What do you mean you pray for a parking space at the mall? What are you, a nut?" Or Satan will come and he'll try to discourage you and dissuade you from trusting; am I right? So the faith that was welling up within him is not decimated by the desperation of this incident.
" 'Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?' As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken," or overheard that statement, "he said to the ruler of the synagogue, 'Do not be afraid; only believe.' "
Now, folks that is a command; it's in the imperative in the Greek. It's a commandment, and it's in the present tense, continued action. So here's the best translation, "He overheard that, he sensed that the man's bottom dropped out of his life, and Jesus said to him, 'Stop fearing; keep on believing. Stop fearing; keep on believing. You came with faith, you trusted that I could do this, stop your fearing, keep on—maintain that level of faith that you had. Keep believing. Only believe,' " in an ongoing, continual, persistent sense. That's the commandment of Jesus.
Faith and fear cannot live together; they're mutually exclusive. The cure for your fears is faith in God. One will overtake the other; they can't live together. When you're fearful, it's because you don't have faith. When you have faith, it banishes fear. So it's a beautiful, succinct, little command, and it's one for us to take heed to tonight. Stop fearing; keep on believing. Keep the faith, man.
"And he permitted no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John the brother of James." In this verse we have the first incident when Jesus has—can we call it an executive team? He had twelve followers, intimate followers, but on a few different occasions, and this is the first occasion, Jesus would separate from the other disciples just these three: Peter, James, and John: here, on the Mount of Transfiguration, in the garden of Gethsemane.
Now, it's pretty obvious that when somebody's grieving and you're at somebody's home, especially ancient home, it was very small, to bring twelve buddies with you into somebody's house that you don't know at a time of grief would be too much; it's overwhelming. And they're going into that room with the father and probably the mother. So Jesus comes. So now the father and the mother and four other people—Jesus and these three—that was enough. It's enough representation. So he sequesters them, they're separated, and they go into the house: Peter, James, and John, this little executive team.
"And he came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and saw a tumult and those who wept and wailed loudly." Let me paint a picture of an ancient funeral, because you're about to see Jesus crash it. Jesus was the great funeral crasher. He's about to say, "This funeral is over." And you're going to hear the response from the crowd, but I want you to get—you got to get this background to appreciate what they say to him.
Middle Eastern funerals were and even are today loud events; lots of wailing, lots of screaming, lots of howling. Because they buried their dead very quickly, there was only a short opportunity to show how much you really loved that person. And it was believed that if you vocalized it, and shared it very emotionally, it's because that person was greatly loved.
So it's the opposite of our funerals. I've never been to a funeral that is described like this. You go to funerals here in the west, it's just the way we do funerals, it's a quiet affair, its hush. I've gone to funeral homes where there's signs. "Quiet Please." You couldn't do that back then; they would have ripped it down. And it's we speak in hush tones, and the organ plays up front, and it's just a kind of a quiet more of a somber affair, little weeps, you know.
Not then, it was wailing and weeping. Not only that, typically you hired profession mourners. People who, shall we say, prime the pump. They just knew, it was time, it's like, "Okay, time for a funeral to start. Ready? Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!" They just started wailing. [laughter] And even though it was an act, and they were professionals, and they were paid for it, that primed the emotional pump when they heard, cry, other people would. Just like if you're around somebody who cries, you often weep with those would weep. It's a natural human response.
Number two, at ancient funerals there were flute players. According to Jewish tradition, even the poorest person of the land was entitled to at least two flute players at his or her funeral. Now, the flute players didn't play melodious sounds like "How Great Thou Art" or "Amazing Grace"; they were just sort of cacophonous, disassociated sounds. And so you'd walk into a place and you can just imagine, people would be moving up and down and "Ahhhhhhhh," and then bad music happening. It's, like, what happened? [laughter]
Not only that, it was customary to rend or rip one's garments at a funeral. So today when you go to a funeral you usually wear your best clothes; you pick out a good suit, or you pick out a nice dress, you know. Not back then, you're going to a funeral, pick out something you don't mind getting torn up. It's not like you put on your nice stuff and go, "Honey, how does this look? How does this robe look and this tunic? Is that cool? How does it look from the side? That look pretty good?" You don't care; it's going to be ripped.
Did you know that in the Talmud there were thirty-nine different instructions on how to rip a garment at a funeral? So there were laws, like, you rip it if you're related to the person always over the heart. You bare the skin, you show the skin, and you rip it about down to the heart, but never as far as the navel; you don't want to be obscene. If you're not related, you'll rip it somewhere smaller but near the heart. Some people would even rip it in the hem or different parts of the clothing. If you're a woman you will rip it in private for obvious reasons, and often the garment was then worn backwards to demonstrate the tear in the back for obvious reasons.
So Jesus comes to this scene and that's what's going on. This child is fully dead. There's flute playing, there's mourning, the garments have been ripped, the hair's disheveled, and Jesus walks in. And he's always calm you notice. He's always like the eye of a hurricane. He's never frazzled, he's just always—"Stop fearing; keep believing. Let's go to your house. Let's check this out."
"He came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, saw a tumult and those who wept and wailed loudly. When he came in, he said to them, 'Why make this commotion and weep? The child is not dead, but sleeping.' They ridiculed him. But when he had put them all outside, he took the father and the mother of the child, and those who were with him, and entered in where the child was lying."
What a thing to say. "Why are you doing this?" That's an odd thing to ask, because every funeral had that happen. "Why are you making a big commotion?" "Um, because she's dead?" Jesus says, "She's not dead, she's only sleeping." They thought that was the stupidest thing they had ever heard, "That's ridiculous." Why did Jesus use that terminology? Because he's redefining what death is in the life of a believer.
He's not saying that when you die your soul sleeps. There's a whole doctrine called "soul sleep," that you go into unconsciousness, and you just sort of drift aimlessly without any connection to consciousness. You unplug for thousands of years to whenever Jesus comes back. That's not true by the way; it's not true. "To live is Christ, to die is gain. I would rather depart and be with Christ," Paul said.
The reason Jesus said she was only sleeping, it's a metaphor. "I'm about to wake her up. I'm about to wake her up. There's going to be a resurrection." Now, the apostles pick up on this metaphor throughout the Scriptures. Paul talks about those who sleep in Jesus, First Thessalonians, chapter 4. On another occasion Jesus said, "Our friend Lazarus is sleeping. I'm going to go wake him up." And then the disciples didn't get that, and go, "Oh, well, if he's sleeping, just let him alone. He'll wake up by his own self." Jesus said, "Lazarus is dead."
In the book of Acts, Stephen as he was being stoned to death, when he died, Luke says, "And he fell asleep." All of that imagery says that you have no more to be afraid of death than a person taking a nap. Person taking a nap, takes a nap, is refreshed, gets up. Every believer in Christ that dies will wake up. Actually, everybody will wake up. Daniel chapter 12, "In as many as sleep in the earth will arise, some to eternal life, others to condemnation and eternal contempt," it says in that prophecy.
A nap. My little grandson, Seth, when he comes over, if I suggest, "Hey, Seth, let's take a nap. Let's go to sleep." "Nooooo!" he's like the mourners, the professional wailers. "Nooooo!" [laughter] Now he doesn't know it right now, but as he gets older and somebody suggests, "Hey, Seth, let's take a nap." It's, like, yes! That's not a punishment, dude; that's a reward. I'm all about that nap. So Jesus speaking words of spiritual reality says, "That child isn't dead, the child is just sleeping. I'm about to wake her up."
"And they ridiculed him." The most ridiculous thing they ever heard. "But when he put them all outside"—actually it's stronger in the Greek. "He backed them out." It's, like, "Get out of here! Out of here! Out of here! Out of here! Out!"—pushed them out. Like, "Get these faithless mockers out of here."
They ridiculed him, he put them all outside, and "he took the father and the mother of the child, and those who were with him, and entered where the child was lying." Now in parallel accounts of this miracle, it says, "They laughed him to scorn." They laughed at his face, and they laughed him to scorn. Now, if they can go from mourning that quickly to laughing, it shows you how real sincere their mourning was, that's why you need to know they were professional mourners. They laughed at him; they ridiculed him.
"He took the child by the hand, and said to her, 'Talitha, cumin,' " that's the best English stab at the Aramaic. This is an Aramaic term. "Talitha, cumin," would be the word, "Talitha, cumin," and he's translating. And the reason it's Aramaic is because that was the household language of the day. It happened to be the language from way back in their history, the language of the Babylonian captivity. When they came back from Babylon they kept speaking the language of Babylon, Chaldean, Aramaic, and so that was still prevalent, especially among rural places, so Jesus spoke that language with them.
" 'Talitha, cumin,' he said to her, which means, 'Little girl, I say to you arise.' " It's better translated "little lamb." "Little lamb, arise." You know how we give our children cute little names? And that's so fitting for a little girl. "Oh, you sweet, little lamb." They like that. Now, when they're about older than three, that won't work. And when they get much older you think of different animal names to call them, perhaps. [laughter] But this is very fitting for this little child.
"Immediately the girl arose and walked." Now just try to imagine mom and dad, and then eventually those people who were waiting outside. She got up and she started walking. "For she was twelve years of age. And they were overcome with great amazement." I'm glad it's stated that way; there's no other way to state it—overcome, speechless, there are no words, there's no fitting emotion. "But he commanded them strictly that no one should know it, and said that something should be given her to eat."
Question: Why did Jesus heal this girl? Did he do it for her? Are you kidding? Imagine dying and entering into the presence of the Lord, to be brought back to a life of pain and suffering, sorrow, heartache, high school English, and then die again. He didn't do it for her. Somebody prays me back if I'm, like, on the deathbed, "Oh, Lord, please save Skip." I-I-whew, I'm coming after you. [laughter] He didn't do it for her. He obviously did it for the parents, obviously. Unimaginable to lose a child.
I remember the phone call from my father telling me that my brother two years older than me, Bob, was dead. I remember the finality of that sentence coming from my father. "Your brother Bob is dead." And I saw them grieving; I saw their hearts break. My mom aged ten years, I've told you before, in a week's time it looked like. Devastating.
Jesus did it for them. He did it to show his power, to demonstrate his power, to bless this couple Jairus and his wife. And number three, to demonstrate that the way to face the most difficult circumstances in life is by faith; to not let your circumstances dictate how you navigate life, how you do life. You do life by faith—stop fearing, keep on believing; stop fearing, keep on believing—that's how you do life, and it'll take you through the worst possible circumstances. Jesus did it for those reasons.
"Then he went out from there and came to his own country, and his disciples followed him." Now, Jesus has moved from Nazareth to Capernaum right around the Sea of Galilee. That's where his headquarters was for three and a half years. Now he's going back to his own country, to the country of Nazareth where he had been brought up as a child. It's the hill country of Galilee. It's in the southern part of Galilee just in from the coast of Haifa. It's hilly in Nazareth. And that's where Jesus grew up overlooking the Valley of—well, Armageddon.
This is the occasion when Jesus went into the synagogue he was raised in, in Nazareth. We talked about this on Sunday morning a few weeks ago. And they handed him the scroll of the book of Isaiah, and he read from Isaiah that Scripture, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor; bind up the brokenhearted, set at liberty those who are bound." And then he closed the book, sat down, and he said, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." That's that the occasion.
Jesus was born—where?—Bethlehem; that's where he was born. He didn't stay there long, maybe a year, maybe a year and a half. And then they moved to—where?—Egypt. For the formidable years of Jesus' life he was raised in Egypt because Herod tried to kill all those babies. So they took refuge in Egypt in that Jewish settlement. There was a huge Jewish settlement in that part of the world. But then eventually they moved back to Nazareth. I'll explain why I believe they did, except it was the will of God certainly, but why they did practically in just a moment.
They moved back to Nazareth; Jesus going back to his hometown. Now, going back home is never easy. When you've had a life transformation, when you've come to know Christ and you've been away from your home, especially for a while, to try to reintegrate back into your home life, it's not easy. It's very difficult; am I right? Have you gone back to your family? Have you had the experience of going back to your family as a born-again Christian? You try to explain to them the love and the joy and the peace and the meaning and how—"I know Jesus, and you need to know Jesus." And they look at you like you are insane.
I went back to my high school reunion, ten-year high school reunion. I don't think I ever went back to another one after that. And I remember the looks on their faces and the polite little, "huh," when they said, "Hey, what do you do now, Skip?" "I pastor a church." See, because they knew me in high school. It was not even close to that. They go "Whaaat? What kind of a church do you pastor?"
My family was skeptical, my friends were cynical, fellow partygoers from high school were hysterical, and all of them thought I was fanatical. Jesus has proclaimed himself the Messiah. He has crowds following him everywhere. He has claimed to be God in human flesh. He's doing miracles, there's notoriety, now he comes back home.
"And when the Sabbath had come, he began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing him were astonished, saying, 'Where did this man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to him, that such mighty works are performed by his hands! Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joses, and Judas and Simon?' " Those are four named flesh brothers of Jesus. So much for the perpetual virginity of Mary, right? She didn't stay a perpetual virgin. That's what I was taught growing up. The Scripture says he had four brothers. Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived, he was born, Joseph and Mary had kids after that. She didn't stay in that status, those four are named.
"And are not his sisters,"—we're not told how many there are, but at least two because it's plural, "here with us? So they were offended at him." Now, I want you to notice something in verse 3. There's an article before carpenter, and it's not the article "a"; it's the article "the." This is the carpenter, which could imply that he was really the only one in town. That Joseph, that was his guild, that was his trade, and though there may be others in other places, he was the guy to go to. He was the carpenter, so it's a definite article: "the" carpenter.
Now, I know what you're thinking, and I'm about to shatter what you're thinking. You've always thought that Jesus worked with a hammer and saw and a chisel and sandpaper and he cut wood; that's a carpenter, right? Now, you think that because you read this. And then you go over to Israel, and you see that everything is made out of stone. And you go, "What's up with this? I'm picturing, like, wood houses, two by fours, and there's none of that. Even the feeding troughs are made out of stone, not wood. That little manger, you think of a little manger because in your nativity set it's like a piece of wood or plastic that looks like wood, but it was a stone feeding trough, that's a manger.
The word carpenter, it's poorly translated. The Greek word is tektón. Tektón literally means a handyman, or a craftsperson, a craftsman. It's typically somebody who's just like a blue-collar worker, like in the old days when every town would have a handyman; he could fix anything from a toaster to a doorknob. A tektón in ancient times is somebody who could build anything from a chicken coop to a home. Because most of the building was stone, it is believed that Jesus though he could work with wood was principally a stonemason, a cutter of stone and a worker with stone. See, I shattered that whole carpenter image for you, didn't I? It's good to do that when the truth bares that out.
Now, they live in Nazareth; Joseph moves his family to Nazareth. Why Nazareth? Well, it is believed that the reason that they're in Nazareth is because they had been in Egypt, but they heard that something was going on in the Galilee region, which it was. Herod Antipas was building a city called Sepphoris, which is four and a half, almost five miles from Nazareth, that's all. He was rebuilding it to its former grandeur and glory, and even greater, and they needed a person like a tektón, and several of them to help build this city.
And that Joseph moved to Nazareth to work with Jesus, his family, in Sepphoris every week. Like, to work there all week, and then come home on the weekends; for years it would be guaranteed labor, because that city was being built when Jesus was growing up.
Now when you go to Sepphoris and you see the digs of the houses and the stones, now you understand all of the imagery when Jesus learned about how to lay a good foundation and work it with stones, and all the imagery that Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount. You know, that nobody builds his house on the sand, but on the rock. And you'd get all that from looking at Sepphoris, the way it was built just a few miles from Nazareth. That's probably why they were there practically.
"Is this not the carpenter?" they're saying this in Nazareth, "the Son of Mary, and these are all his brothers?" And they're offended, and see Jesus isn't rabbinical, you know, he didn't go to Hebrew U. He's a blue-collar worker, man. He's a handyman. He's a man of the people. He works with his hands. He gets them dirty. He knows how to make stuff, a common person. They were offended at that because he's reading from the scroll saying, "I'm the guy. I'm the Messiah. It's fulfilled in your hearing."
"Jesus said to them, 'A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.' " We say, "familiarity breeds contempt." "Now he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. Then he went about the villages in a circuit, teaching."
I'm fascinated; I've always been struck by what you just read. It says, "He could do no mighty work there." He wanted to; he couldn't. Why? He marveled at their unbelief. There is a relationship between the work of God and faith. It's enigmatic, it's not always predictable, but there is that relationship. Doesn't say he would not; he "could" not. "He could do no mighty work there," but then it says, "except he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them," like that's chump change. That's pretty good. I can't do that; he did it. All the sick people said amen, they were pretty stoked.
But it indicates that Jesus would have and wanted to do much greater, that he wanted to give a torrent; they settled for a trickle. Sound familiar? Could it be that God wants to do "exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think?" But, no, "Here I am, Lord, I just want a little trickle." I don't—I want it all! I want a torrent.
And it says Jesus marveled—thaumazó is the word. Like we'd say, "He was totally blown away by their unbelief." "Then he went about the villages in a circuit, teaching." The Scriptures reveal to us the power of faith. It's powerful. "Abraham," Genesis 15, "believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." God made him a promise; he goes, "Amen to that. I believe that. I'm gonna have a kid. I believe that!" The children of Israel along with Moses at the Red Sea, God said, "Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord." Even if they had a little bit of faith, it was enough; they saw some amazing things happen.
David had the faith to go out with a little piece of leather and a few stones and slay a giant named Goliath. The woman in the crowd had the faith to say, "If I touch the hem of his garment, I'm going to be healed." So there's ample demonstration and evidence in the Scripture that faith is powerful. But also you ought to know, you need to know that unbelief is also very powerful and contagious.
Just like faith is contagious, unbelief is contagious. This is the reason why in the Old Testament when they were getting an army together, God said, "Now, go to the army and tell them if there's anybody among you who's afraid to go to war, stay home. We don't want you on the battlefield getting all weirded out because you're in a battle: 'I don't want to be here,' because you're going to scare everybody off. It's contagious, fear is contagious, and unbelief is contagious. Faith is powerful, unbelief is also powerful.
Adam and Eve failed to enter into God's promise because of their unbelief. The world at large failed at the preaching of Noah, only eight people got into that boat—that's the power of unbelief. Pharaoh hardened his heart against God in unbelief and the firstborn of his household died. And now we see in the life of Jesus so many around him, and even in his own hometown.
"And he called the twelve to himself, and he began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits. He commanded them to take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bag, no bread, no copper in their money belts—but to wear sandals, not to put on two tunics." One would be for the day; one would be put over that at night to keep you warm.
"He also said to them, 'In whatever place you enter a house, stay there till you depart from that place. And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!" So they went out and preached that people should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them."
Jesus sent out his men in twos. There's power in the company of another believer. When we used to go street witnessing, we'd follow this model; we'd always bring somebody with us. So you could sort of cross fire, have stereo witnessing going on. It's, like, you stop here, and the other guy sort of kicks in, shares something else, and the other guy sort of shares something else.
In Ecclesiastes 4, one of my favorite Scriptures I often share at a wedding, Solomon said, "Two are better than one, they have a good reward for their labor. If one falls down his companion can help up the one who is fallen. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they can stay warm; but how can one be warm alone?"
But I believe the reason Jesus sent them out two by two is more than just for accountability, though that's there and that's important and that's part of it. More than just strength etcetera, but the Bible says by the mouth of how many witnesses every word shall be established? Two witnesses. He didn't come to destroy the law, but to fulfill the law, so two witnesses are enough. They're there to witness the event and supply the name and the power of God and their mutual testimony to that place.
Hospitality was huge. Now, get this, this is so cool. If you were a traveler back then, you didn't have to look for a hotel, you didn't. If you're going to go to a town, forget a hotel. You know, there were things called the inns, like Jesus, "there was no room in the inn." That inn, it wasn't like—it was no Holiday, put it that way. It was a caravansary. It's where you put animals, and people slept in the outlying rooms because they were moving in caravans with their animals. That's what an inn was; there were no hotels like we have today.
It was always the responsibility of the town to show hospitality and to give what was necessary for those who were traveling, and you as a traveler didn't have to go looking for it. If you were in a town and they saw you were a stranger, you were always invited over. How cool is that? It'd make things a whole lot easier, right?
So Jesus said, "You're going to go to a town. You're going to bring this message of repentance with them, and I'm giving you my power to heal, etcetera, but just live off the hospitality of the people you go into testify to. Now, if they don't listen to you, then you leave." And Jesus says, "You shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them." What's that about? What's this about? We do that when we—before we go inside, we have a floor mat, a doormat, or we stomp our feet on the cement before we go in, that's always etiquette.
But to shake the dust off of your feet was a rabbinical Jewish belief system that has these roots. You see, the rabbis used to say that even the dust of Gentile lands is defiled. And if they walked out of Israel, whenever they would reenter the land, they would perform this ritual of shaking every bit of dust, Gentile dust, defiled dust off before they reentered the Holy Land. It was a statement of disassociation and a statement of God's judgment upon unbelievers; that's how they saw it.
We read an occasion where Paul and Barnabas in the book of Acts did this, but it has a twist. You see, the Jewish rabbis used to do it for Gentile areas. "We're going back into Jewish areas. We shake the dust off our feet of the Gentiles, those filthy Gentiles." Paul and Barnabas are in Antioch of Pisidia, Turkey, Asia Minor. And when they go there, they go to a synagogue, they preach the Gospel. There's Jews that are listening, some of them believe, but a whole bunch of Gentile converts, proselytes hear the message of Paul and Barnabas, especially God's love for the whole world, and the Gentile world, and they love this guy.
And the Gentile, Jewish converts say, "Hey, speak again next Sabbath, would you? That was, like, a cool message." So the next Sabbath it says almost the whole city gathered together in Antioch of Pisidia to hear Barnabas and Paul. And the Jewish people of the synagogue became so jealous and envious, because "Paul and Barnabas got a bigger crowd than we do. They got a bigger church going on than we do."
They got all upset and they stirred up animosity toward these two apostles. So you know what they did? They shook the dust off of their feet because they said, "If you're not going to receive what we have to say, God is sending us to the Gentiles." So they shook the dust off of their shoes, not in Gentile territory to reenter Jewish territory, but to say to Jews, "We're not going to take part of this defiled mentality that doesn't incorporate God's love for the whole world." Beautiful testimony! Beautiful twist on it.
Well, I actually had the ambition of going through all of chapter 6, but at this pace it would be—well, we'd be here till midnight. So we're going to close it off here and pick it up next time. But I want to close on that note. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever"—don't you love that word? Because I'm in it; I'm a "whoever." "Whoever believes in him would not perish but have everlasting life." That's the message of the Gospel.
That's the message these disciples were bringing first of all just to these towns around Galilee. Just these one nighters, these overnighters, these go in with just a few things, no moneybag. Just trust the Lord as you go. The Lord will open doors. Let's see what the Lord does. And they brought this message. It was a message of God's love and salvation, and telling people to repent to change their mind; that's what the word means. Metanoeó—to change your mind, to change your direction, and enter into a life of faith and join the forgiveness and the love of God through his Son Jesus. Now, when we pick it up next time, they're going to come back stoked because of what they see.
Father, we close the book at this verse. We believe we close it providentially, that that's the word you wanted us to hear tonight, the last word. That as Jesus said, "Go, and depend, and bring this message. Shake the dust off your feet. Disassociate from those who do not receive the message of repentance." Even so, Paul and Barnabas, even to a religious crowd made a separation because their narrowness was so extreme they didn't include your love for the whole world; not just one group, not just one race, the whole world. Anyone who would repent and believe could be saved—anyone.
And that message has come to us all the way from that land, that ancient land of Israel to our own country, to our own city, into our own ears. We've heard it before, we're hearing it again tonight. Father, as I close this study, I'm praying for those who might be in our audience tonight, this great crowd of people that have gathered together, and some of them don't know Jesus personally. Some of them remember a religious experience of their past, but it's not a reality, it's not a daily lifestyle, and they're feeling the weight of the world.
And words of Jesus ring in our ears—"Stop fearing; keep on believing." But that faith has to begin at some point. I pray for those who have come and have trusted long, too long, in their religious experience, a church they belong to, a creed they subscribed to, but not a Savior that they personally follow. The Bible commands all men and women everywhere to repent, the Scripture tells us, to change our minds, to change our direction, and to go your direction, and I pray that some here tonight would.
With our heads bowed, as we're closing this service, if you're here tonight and you honestly are unsure as to your status before God—you may be a wonderful person, but you may not be a saved person. You may have had a religious experience in the past, but it's not being translated into the present. You think about your life; if you were to die, are you absolutely sure you would be in God's presence? The Bible says you can be sure.
For you see, one day what they said of that girl, they will say of you. "He's dead." "She's dead." And there will then eventually be a resurrection from the dead; some, as Daniel said, to everlasting life, some to contempt and everlasting destruction. So, Lord, while we have that chance, that choice to make, I pray that some would make that here and now.
And if you are here tonight and you want to make that choice to follow Jesus for the first time or to recommit your life to Christ because you've backslid or fallen away from him and you want to get back home, as we're closing this service, I want you to raise your hand up so I can see it. And I'll acknowledge you and pray for you as we close this service.
You raise your hand up. And you're saying by raising your hand, "Pray for me. I'm giving my life to Jesus. I'm coming home to him." God bless you and you right up in the front. Raise it up so I can see it. Couple of you right over here to my right, and over here to my right. Anyone else? God bless you toward the back on my left. Right down the middle toward the back, a couple of you. Anyone else? Raise your hand up.
Father, for all those who have made that gesture, it's our prayer that as they pray to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior personally, as their Lord ultimately that they would experience a joy they've never felt, a peace they've never known that settles into them, that you give them purpose in life, you totally rearrange the way that think and why they live as they enter the family of God, in Jesus' name, amen.
Let's all stand, please. We're going to sing a final song and I'm going to ask the many of you that raised your hands around the room, as we sing I'm going to ask you to get up and come and stand right up here in the front. And stand up here, I'm going to lead you in a prayer to receive Christ right here, right now. Jesus called people publicly so often, so that's what we're doing. [Could you please turn up the guitar so we can hear it. I can hear just the strings. There's it is.] You get up and come.
[worship music plays]
Come up right in the front. Right on! I saw many more hands go up. We're not doing this to embarrass anyone. Don't go that way; go this way, come this way. [applause] I want this to be real for you tonight. You're coming out of the world and you're coming into the light. You make a clean break tonight. Come on up. God bless you guys. Come on, there's plenty of room. God is good!
Those of you who have walked forward, it's my privilege now to lead you in in a prayer to receive Jesus Christ into your life. I'm going to pray a prayer out loud and I'm going to ask you to pray this after me out loud. It's sort of like what we do at weddings, we ask couples to say vows out loud to each other. So this is the day, this is the night that you're giving your life to Christ. So as I pray this, you say these words from your heart and you say them to the Lord. Let's pray together.
Lord, I give you my life. I admit I'm a sinner. Please forgive me. I believe that Jesus died on a cross, that he shed his blood for my sin, and that he rose from the dead for me. I turn from my sin, I leave my past, I turn to you as my Savior. I want to live for you as my Lord. Help me, in Jesus' name, amen. Amen!