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 look forward to being refreshed by being reminded of timeless truths. For many of us, we have read the Bible through from cover to cover on many occasions. And when it comes to the Gospels, it is familiar ground; we know it, and we know it well. But, Lord, I will admit the sheer joy of going over again and being reminded and refreshed by the life and ministry of Jesus Christ in the Gospel of Mark.
My spirit soars every time I have the opportunity to read it for myself. The joy is doubled when I have the opportunity to share it with brothers and sisters whom I love, children whom you love and died for. And we pray, Father, that you would use this time, maximize this time in our lives so that we would derive the full impact as your Spirit would speak through the simple teaching of the Word of God, in Jesus' name, amen.
The twelve disciples in this chapter become the twelve apostles. They get sent out by the Lord Jesus Christ on a mission. Can you imagine how thrilling it was when those men decided to make following Jesus their full-time occupation? The adventure that they were embarking on was something like no other. It was a life they had no idea what they were getting into; they had no idea what it would be. But the adventure of following him—their life had purpose, it had meaning. They were ready for anything by the time Jesus was done with them in a short three-three and a half years, and he commissioned them to go out into all the world.
He was preparing them for life and preparing them for death. But up till now, Jesus had done it all. They had the opportunity to watch him. They had the opportunity to hear his sermons. They marveled at what he said. They marveled at what he did, and he did it all, until now. Now, Jesus is going to multiply his efforts by sending those very ones who have watched him and listened to him. He's going to send them out on a short-term mission project.
So it's going to be the words, and the works, the messages, and the miracles of Jesus Christ times twelve. They get an opportunity to teach. They get an opportunity to preach. They get an opportunity to cast demons out. They get an opportunity to lay hands on people and have diseases leave their bodies—a marvelous, incredible, life-altering experience.
Already Jesus has the attention of the crowds. Already notoriety is filtering through the land of Galilee and down into Jerusalem. Already there's a buzz among the Jews. Now that buzz is going to be amplified as Jesus confers power to these twelve disciples—a word that means "learners," and turns them into apostles—a word that means "sent ones." He sends them out on a mission, a short-term mission.
I've always loved missions and I've always believed in short-term missions: to go out for a short period of time, to cross your cultural boundary, to eat different food, to hear different languages, different paradigms of communication and to in that culture have to share what you know. And it's always surprising that you know so much, seriously, and how well equipped you are if you just gave yourself the opportunity to go do that.
And so you're out there for a week or two or three, and then you come back and you bring reports of what you heard, and what you saw, and how lives were changed. But as many lives as were changed, the greatest life that is changed is the one who went. You get transformed. It does something for you. You get to a worldview that you didn't have. You have an idea for spreading the Gospel around the world that you really never saw before until you went on that short-term mission.
That's the kind of transformation that is happening here, and it's important that they get sent out now because Jesus is readying these men for their future. Because this journey is leading to the cross—he will die, he will be buried, and he will rise from the dead, and only spend forty more days with them, and then ascend into heaven, and they will see him physically no more. But he will give them a commission to go and to take the message into all the world, a commission that they took seriously.
My early days in discipleship comprised of three things: Bible study, prayer meetings, and street witnessing. I didn't know much, but what I knew I shared. And when I went out in the streets it was awfully scary. I mean, literally they put us in a Volkswagen bus—I think that's considered an antique now. And they took all the seats out of the Volkswagen bus, except the driver. So they just crammed us in; something that's probably even illegal to do now.
And they took us to a mall, opened that sliding door on the Volkswagen, and said, "Everybody get out; we'll pick you up in two-two and a half hours." And we would go out two by two, and we would share our faith. But I tell you, at the end of that night I wanted to keep going; it was so exciting. It was just so exciting to be able to share what the Lord put in me, just to have the opportunity. A lot of people didn't want to hear it; some people did. That's the idea here.
So we'll back it up just a little bit because we're going to begin with the replication of Jesus' ministry in these twelve guys. Verse 7, "He called the twelve to himself, and began to"—apostelló is the word—"to send them." The word apostle means the "sent one"; it comes from this word. "To send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits. And 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, and not to put on two tunics."
Why would a person put on two tunics? They would put on two tunics to sleep at night. They would have an extra one to take away the cold at night as sort of a blanket. Jesus said, "Don't even do that; don't take anything as an overnight bag. You're going to rely on the hospitality of others."
"Also he said to them, "In whatever place you enter a house, stay there until 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! And so they went out and they preached that people should repent."
That's the first component. They were to speak, they were to talk, they were to preach, they had a message. They heard Jesus teach and preach; now it's their turn to bring the message, and it's a message of repentance. You see, the good news—the Gospel means good news—the good news always had bad news in it first. The good news is that Jesus Christ came down and died for sinners, and all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
If people don't know that, they will have no compunction to find the good news, the solution for their sin. If you just say, "There's a God who loves you and Jesus died for you." "Okay, thanks. So!" But you need to know that because the bad news is that you're a sinner, and sin demands a turning from it, a repentance, and then you discover the good news—forgiveness and salvation.
Verse 13, "And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them." One of the disciples was named James. This obviously made a great impact upon James, because James will write in his little epistle toward the end of the New Testament, "Is there anyone who's sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray for him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick." He saw it firsthand. They took oil, they anointed people with oil, and people were healed.
So basically Jesus is saying, "Boys, you're going out; travel light and trust in the Lord. Trust that the Lord will open doors, that people will listen; if not, shake the dust off your feet. But just trust that the Lord is going to provide as you go. You don't need a big plan. You don't need a website right now. Just go out, trust the Lord, and see what happens. Don't take provisions."
Now this will not remain the case; this is just the short-term mission. When it comes time for their long-term mission, and they're going to travel further than just Galilee, the rules will be changed. Permit me to read them to you. This is out of the Gospel of Luke in chapter 22. I'm reading from verse 35, "He said to them, 'When I sent you out without a money bag, knapsack, sandals, did you lack anything?' And so they said, 'Nothing.' And then he said to them, 'But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.' "
He was sending them out now on longer-term missions. It was going to be a lifestyle for them, and they did need provisions. Paul and Barnabas took provisions in the book of Acts as they did their missionary journeys. So he's sending out disciples, and when he sends out those who were learners, disciples, his students, they become apostles because they're now on a mission. Apostello—the sent ones.
Something else that would be helpful for you to know: as church history began to wear on, it was not uncommon to have many of these itinerant teacher preachers move from congregation to congregation. And they became a problem because anybody can come in and go, "The Lord sent me here. Thus saith the Lord, take care of me." It started to get abused where people were using the Lord's name to go into a village, to get into people's houses.
And so a little book, a manual was written called the Didache; the Didache the "teaching" is what the word means. And it was the teaching of the twelve, supposedly, the twelve disciple apostles, a manual for the early church on how to spot a false prophet. And it's interesting, if somebody comes and stays at your house, the Didache said, if he stays two days, no problem; if he stays more, three days or longer, he's a false prophet. If he comes into your congregation and he asks for money, "Thus saith the Lord, I believe that there are twenty people with a thousand dollars." According to that little manual they're a false prophet.
In this manual it says, if by the Spirit of God, supposedly, they command you to cook them a meal, they're abusing their privileges. Can you imagine it? "God is speaking to me right now—I smell steak and lobster. Hallelujah!" Get him out! So it did become a problem. But here in its nascent stages, it's beginning stages, as Jesus is priming the pump, sending them on a short-term mission, readying them for a full-time, long-term mission, he says, "Go out, just depending on the Lord, trusting in the Lord. Don't take in provisions with you."
So that's the replication of Jesus' ministry. He's taking his ministry of preaching, teaching, healing, times twelve. So, you can imagine the kind of buzz that was generated when not one person, but twelve people are speaking, saying, "The kingdom of God is now here, and to prove it to you here's a miracle, here's a healing, here's something astonishing." Now that buzz is amplified, and what Mark shows us now is the reaction to Jesus' ministry beginning in verse 14.
"Now, King Herod heard of him, for his name had become well known"—stop. Look back at that verse and notice words in that verse that are in italics. Can you spot them? "Of him" in my Bible is in italics. That indicates that's not in the original language. It really should read, as it does originally, "Now, King Herod heard for his name had become well known."
What did he hear? He heard about the ministry of Jesus Christ through the twelve who were sent out around Galilee. It made a stir. It created a bigger more amplified buzz. He heard of that. He heard of their ministry. The notoriety of Jesus Christ was now amplified to the extent that even Herod heard about it. "For his name," the name of Jesus "had become known. And he said, 'John the Baptist is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him.' "
Now, I'm going to attempt—and I'll do it just in brief—to explain to you Herod. It is a mess. If you can understand it, more power to you. If you can understand it after one explanation, more power to you. The Herod family was a tangled mess. Let's just start with the father of this guy we're reading about. The guy we're reading about here, this is Herod Antipas. Herod Antipas was a tetrarch; that is, a ruler of a fourth. He had the area of Galilee and Perea, which is that country just east of the Jordan River. We would call it present-day Jordan all way down to the Dead Sea.
So Galilee and Perea, he was the tetrarch, a ruler of the fourth of his dad's kingdom, Herod the Great. Now, you know Herod the Great. Herod the Great was the guy that killed all the babies in Bethlehem—a maniac. Herod the Great had ten wives, so there's lots of little Herods running around. And there's lots of—if you try to study the Herod family, you're going to close the book and go, "Oh, my goodness. I don't get this." Because there was such weirdness about this family with intermarriage and incest and intrigue and death and murder, it's hard to keep track of it.
But let's start with Herod the Great, the one who gave the edict to kill the babies in Bethlehem. Herod the Great, his background—he was an Idumean. An Idumean, the kingdom of the Nabateans or Idumeans, east and south of Israel, south of the Dead Sea was that kingdom; that was his background. He married a Samaritan woman. So you have a Nabatean, somebody's who's not Jewish, and a Samaritan, someone that the Jews hate, who's the king of this part of the world. The Jews despised him.
I mentioned he had ten wives. His fourth wife gave him the son Herod Antipas that we're reading about here. Do you follow me so far? Herod the Great murdered not only the babies of Bethlehem, but murdered several of his sons, several of the his wives, the entire Jewish Sanhedrin, because they disagreed with something he said. And so there was a saying that went around that "it's safer to be Herod's pig than it is to be his son."
Well, I mentioned that there were lots of little Herods running around. This one—Herod Antipas—this tetrarch over Galilee is the one that we're dealing with here. Now, it says that, "He said, 'John the Baptist is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him.' Others said, 'It is Elijah.' And others said, 'It is the Prophet, or like one of the prophets.' "According to the Gospel of Matthew it says, "It's Jeremiah, or one of the prophets."
"But when Herod heard, he said, 'This is John, whom I beheaded; he has been raised from the dead!' He got killed. John the Baptist—one that Jesus said was the greatest prophet of all, and the greatest man who was ever born up till that time, the very cousin of Jesus Christ. Mark's going to tell us how that happened; he got beheaded. This is all the reaction of Herod to the ministry of Jesus.
I've always been interested in the fact that the rumors going around about Jesus were, number one, he was John the Baptist. John the Baptist is dead at this point. He's been beheaded. We will find out how and why. But it's interesting that people said, "That Jesus that must be John the Baptist back from the dead."
Why would they think it's John the Baptist, not just Herod? Because there were similarities to John's ministry and that of Jesus: he called people to repentance, he was unafraid of Pharisees and Scribes, he boldly proclaimed the Word of God, he was unafraid, he was unashamed, he was up front. So John the Baptist had a ministry, though he pointed to Jesus, Jesus' ministry was similar enough that it reminded people of John the Baptist.
Others said, according to the text, "This is Elijah," which you might think, "Well, that's kind of weird since Elijah the prophet has been dead nine hundred years." Why on earth with anybody think, "I believe that's Elijah?" Because there was that strange prophecy at the end of their Old Testament in the book of Malachi, chapter 4, that says, "Before the coming of the day of the Lord, God will send Elijah the prophet." It's the very reason to this very day at Passover; Jews keep the door open and an empty chair in case Elijah would come back to their Passover meal.
Not only that, Elijah was a wonder worker. He was a greatest of the prophets of Israel, and he performed certain miracles. And because miracles were attached to both Elijah and Elisha, they thought, "This is Elijah the prophet who saw miracles and is predicted that he will come back before the great and terrible day of the Lord; this must be him."
Others said he's like Jeremiah or one of the prophets. Even though the text doesn't say Jeremiah, the other Gospels say that the rumor was: "This is Jeremiah or one of the prophets." Now why would they think Jesus is Jeremiah? There was a story circulating among the Jews that Jeremiah the prophet when the Babylonians were coming into Jerusalem to attack it, to burn it, to sack it, according to his own prediction, when he saw them that they hid the Ark of the Covenant and the altar of incense so that the Babylonians couldn't carry it away to Babylon.
That's why it is believed by some that those two articles of furniture are still somewhere underneath the Temple Mount. And it was believed—the story said that before the kingdom comes, the kingdom age of Messiah that Jeremiah the prophet will come back from the dead and restore the Ark of the Covenant and the altar of incense from the old temple to its proper place of worship.
But not only that, one of the marks of Jeremiah, one of the things people noted about Jeremiah is that he was compassionate. The book of Lamentations was written by the prophet Jeremiah as he was overlooking the destruction of Jerusalem and weeping over it; hence, he was dubbed "the weeping prophet." Jesus will weep over Jerusalem. You'll read, if we get to it, that Jesus was compassionate when he saw the crowd. So there was enough in the personality of Jeremiah and in the ministry of Jesus Christ to draw those similarities.
So here's the rumors, Herod hears about it, the ministry of the twelve, and says, "Ah, John the Baptist risen from the dead." And then Mark says actually there were a lot of rumors: some said it was John, some said it was one of the prophets, some said was Elijah. Then we get back to it.
Verse 16, "But when Herod heard, he said, 'This is John, whom I beheaded; he has been raised from the dead.' For Herod himself sent and laid hold of John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife; for he married her." Now I need to explain this: Herod Antipas had—I mentioned there's lots of little Herods running around, right? So Herod Antipas, this guy, had a couple of half brothers. There's just two I'm going to mention for the sake of ease.
Herod Antipas was already married. His wife was the daughter of a Nabatean king called Aretas IV; that was his wife. But he took a liking, while he was in Rome, to his half brother Philip's wife Herodias, and seduced her away from her husband. Herodias was the daughter of his half brother Aristobulus—so it was his niece that he was marrying—as well as the wife of his half brother Herod Philip. So it was his sister-in-law at the same time. I told you it was convoluted.
While he was in Rome he seduced her. When she left Herod Philip and married him, his first wife's father Aretas IV, the Nabatean—you following me so far?—found out about it and was angry, sent an army to kill Herod, killed Herod's army, and almost killed Herod until Rome intervened and was able to stop it. So now you have this weird, incestuous family, and you have Herod Antipas marrying his niece and half brother's—and his sister-in-law Herodias.
"Because John had said to Herod, 'it is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife.' "John the Baptist was never one to mince words. He was never one to compromise. He was never one to give nice, soft, little, fluffy sermons that Herod would go, "Oh, I like this. You didn't challenge me. I want to hear you again." He just got right to the point and said, "Herod, you're in sin. This is sinful."
Now, I think one of the reasons this was important is though Herod Antipas was Idumean, and I mentioned that, he did try to align himself with Judaism. He's the one that built the Jews a temple in Jerusalem. And he tried to identify with Judaism up to a point. He called himself—his father called himself the king of the Jews; he's sort of taking that mantel on himself.
So now you have John the Baptist who's getting in his face going, "That's wrong. That's adultery. You can't divorce your wife like that and marry somebody else's wife. It's sinful. It's not according to Scripture." He'd be kicked out of a lot of churches today, but he was up front.
Now notice it says in verse 17, "he bound him in prison." The prison fortress where John the Baptist was arrested and placed was a place down in the desert kingdom of present-day Jordan down by the Dead Sea in a place called Machaerus. It is the desert fortress palace prison—all of those things. He had several palaces, several hideaways throughout the land; this was just one of them.
Verse 19, "Therefore Herodias held it against him and wanted to kill him, but she could not; for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and he protected him. And when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly. Then an opportune day came when Herod on his birthday gave a feast for his nobles, and the high officers, and the chief men of Galilee." So the who's who came to his palace, came to where he was, the Herodian Party, the who's who of Judaism that would align themselves with the Herodian Dynasty to celebrate a birthday.
Now, you should also know that birthdays to Jews, to the Jews, weren't a big deal; they weren't important; they didn't really celebrate birthdays, but Romans; they made a huge deal out of it. And he wanted a big birthday, and it was—if you can just think of all of the lecherous, lascivious, vile kind of things that would happen at this kind of a birthday bash. And you should also know this was a male event, a men's night out in the fullest sense of the word. It was all men together, and you can imagine the talking and the lewd jokes that would go on.
"And when Herodias' daughter," verse 22, "herself came in and danced and pleased Herod and those who sat with him, the king said to the girl, 'Ask me whatever you want, and I will give it to you.' "The daughter of Herodias, according to Josephus the Jewish historian, was a girl named Salome. She was between sixteen and seventeen years old at this point, the daughter of Herodias and her prior husband Herod Philip.
Can you imagine a mother not just allowing, but prompting her sixteen-year-old daughter to dance what was called the dance of the veils, a very seductive—it was like a stripper, and mom put her up to it. Mom didn't care anything about purity. She had no moral high ground to speak from. She had been immoral her whole life along with her husbands. So she put her up to this.
And Herod said, "'Ask me whatever you want, and I will give it to you.' He also swore to her, 'Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half my kingdom.' "What a boast! Can I also add it's an empty boast? He had nothing to give. He could make promises, but he could offer nothing. According to Roman law he was unable to give away a single acre. He couldn't give away any of his fortresses; they would be given to those who would succeed him. Nothing. But he made this empty boast.
In fact, there's really one other place where this boast is mentioned, and it's in the Old Testament book of Esther. You remember King Xerxes, also known as Ahasuerus? King Xerxes who told Esther when she trepidatiously came into the courtroom and touched the scepter of the king, and she wanted to make a request because she found out about Haman's plot. And she said, "King, I have a request." He said, "Ask me. I will give you up to half my kingdom!" And because of that request, the evil plot of Haman against the Jews was made known. But that was the line he used: "I'll give you anything up to half my kingdom."
Now, here's Herod, I believe, saying this simply because he wants to be like a king. He wants to come off as if he has all the authority of Rome. He has nothing. "I'll give you up to half my kingdom." I simply think it's a self-aggrandizing statement to make all of his guests think that he has more power than he actually wielded—but he made the promise.
"So she went out and said to her mother, 'What shall I ask?' And she said, 'The head of John the Baptist!' "Now, by now you're reading this and you're thinking, "What kind of a family are we dealing with? We're talking about beheading and placing a head on a charger, on a platter, and bringing it in"—exactly, and it was not that uncommon in those times.
"Immediately," boy, Mark loves that word, "she came in with haste to the king and asked, saying, 'I want you to give me at once the head of the John the Baptist on a platter.' "Now watch this: "And the king was exceedingly sorry"—stop there."The king was exceedingly sorry." Can you picture that? "Ah, man! Oh, no!" Whatever you want to picture it as—exceedingly sorrowful. He liked John. He protected John. He knew that Herodias wanted to kill him long ago; he wouldn't let it happen.
The opportune time came. The dance was done. He made a stupid promise, probably filled with alcohol. People say the stupidest things when they drink. I've had people say, "I love you man!" They don't love me. They don't even know me. But he made the statement, and he has dinner guests, and now he's exceedingly sorry. You read that, if you don't finish the sentence, you're apt to think, "Well, this is a good sign. This is a good sign; he's remorseful." Folks, there's a huge difference between remorse and repentance. Repentance isn't simply emotional grief; it's a change of heart, a change of mind that results in a change of lifestyle.
Second Corinthians 7, "Godly sorrow works repentance. Godly sorrow works repentance that brings salvation, that is not to be regretted of; but worldly sorrow produces death." There's a huge difference between worldly sorrow—remorse, and godly sorrow—repentance. I have met; you have met many people who are so sorry that they got caught. But they weren't sorry before they got caught. There was no remorse at all in their life before the court date. Huge difference between remorse, regret, and repentance.
Judas betrayed Jesus Christ. The Bible says he was filled with remorse. He was remorseful. He went back to the chief priests and threw the money and said, "I betrayed innocent blood." They said, "We don't care. It's nothing to us. We got what we wanted." But Judas was remorseful, and what did he do? He hung himself. The rope broke and his guts splattered on the rocks below according to the two stories corroborated.
Compare Judas to Peter. Peter denied Jesus, "I don't even know the guy." Cursed time and time again at those servant ladies in the courtyard. But Peter later on, because of the love of Jesus Christ reaching out to him, was filled with love and said to Jesus, "I do love you," and he was recommissioned, reinstated. One was remorse, the other was repentance. Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit," and then they said, "Blessed are those who mourn." Not those who moan, but mourn. That's godly sorrow. That's where I realize I'm spiritually bankrupt, poor in spirit, and I mourn over it—that's repentance.
"The king was exceedingly sorry; yet, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded his head to be brought. And he went and beheaded him in prison."
Let me give you a little gruesome fact, a little piece of gruesome irony. The fortress I mentioned to you down by the Dead Sea over in present-day Jordan was called Machaerus. The prison house is still there to this day, the remains of it. The fortress Machaerus is named after the Greek word machaera, which means a sword. So it's the fortress of the sword. So the gruesome irony is at the fortress of the sword, Machaerus, John the Baptist was beheaded with a sword.
"And he brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother." Verse 29, "When his disciples," that is, the disciples of John the Baptist. Remember he had many following him; some of the disciples of Christ were originally disciples of John. John had many followers. He was very popular. He was a man of God. People loved him. He had been in prison over a year and now his head has been cut off.
"When his disciples heard of it, they came and took away his corpse and laid it in a tomb." It's the only act of decency in the entire story. What this reminds me of is couple of different things in the Bible that I always like to, when I read an account, give you parallel accounts or like accounts for comparison.
One is in the Old Testament when Saul and his sons Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua, they all died on that final battle with the Philistines on Mount Gilboa—you know the story. He fell on his sword. He committed suicide one account says. And the philistines cut off his head like John the Baptist, and they put Saul's body and his sons' bodies on the outside walls of their town. So anybody walking by looking at the walls of the city would see decapitated corpses hanging from the walls, trophies for their battle.
The men across the Jordan River up in the highlands of Jabesh Gilead heard of it and as an act of decency, like the disciples of John, came and took the bodies of Saul and his sons off of the walls of Beth Shan, and gave them a decent burial. The other is that of Joseph of Arimathea. Jesus was crucified, the body was taken down, Joseph offered his tomb, an act of kindness, an act of decency.
According to the Jews, the body must be buried, and it was buried quickly after death. And so the disciples being Jewish disciples would naturally rush in and want to bury the body in the ground—bury. According to the Jews, the body must be buried, not burned, not incinerated—buried. And because of that Jewish belief and stance, it is passed into Christianity that for the most part Christians bury their dead.
Why a burial? Because a burial is a statement of faith in a resurrection. The idea of placing a body in the ground—of course, this is before the days of environment, and we don't have enough space to bury our dead, so let's just burn them. The idea of burying was very, very important. According to the Mishnah it was outlawed, any kind of cremation whatsoever. Burial was always the case of dealing with a body of death.
And for Christians it's because of what Paul said in First Corinthians 15, "The body is sewn in dishonor, raised in glory." So you're sowing seed. The word cemetery means "resting place." The seed resting; you put the seed in the seed bed as a statement of faith that I believe in the resurrection.
Did you know that cremation does go back to Hinduism and the Romans did it even during this time, but it was never a Jewish practice; it never was a Christian practice. In fact, it was pagans that really brought the idea into the modern world, into the Western world. Now, I want to set some of you at ease because I'm looking, like, "Oh-oh-oh, my goodness! I've had a friend or relative that we've cremated."
It's not like God can't find the molecules of those who have been burned and regather them for resurrection, because you do know there will be a bodily resurrection. I hope you know that; that's a tenet of the Christian faith. The body that you put in ground is the body that will be resurrected, though in a brand-new constituted way; bible teaches that. A burial affirms that belief.
That's not to say that God—it's like, "Oh, my goodness, there's molecules, now they're in the air, and scattered all over, and they scattered them in this mountain, and in that lake, and what am I going to do now?" We're dealing with God. If he can create it to begin with, he can remake it or resurrect it.
So, I want to set your mind at ease. Now, this is just my personal belief, though I know God can do it, I never want to put God in a position to have to do it. So sort of following the tradition—and call me a traditionalist—I believe that when I die I want to be buried as a statement of faith in the resurrection. They took his body, they buried it.
"Then the apostles gathered," verse 30. Now we have the third movement of this; this is the return of the disciples. We've had the replication of Jesus' ministry beginning in verse 7. We've had the reaction to Jesus' ministry in the life of Herod, saying, "This guy's John the Baptist risen from the dead," and then explaining how John died. And now we have the return of the ministers of Jesus as they come back after being sent out on that little short-term mission.
"Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told him all the things, both what they had done and what they had taught." This must have been a lively meeting, an amazing meeting. "Jesus, it was awesome! We preached the Gospel. Somebody got healed!" James surely would have said, "I put oil on somebody and it worked! I'm gonna make a mental note of that, because I'm going write that down someday." A wonderful recapping, a field report, if you will, of the success of the short-term mission.
Now, do you notice the word apostles? They're called disciples up to this point. This is really the first time in the Gospel of Mark they're designated as apostles, not disciples, now they're apostles. Why? Because they have been sent out, and now they return, now they're apostles, they've graduated.
"And he said to them, 'Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.' For there were many coming and going and they did not have time to eat." Let me throw something at you. There's a principle I don't want you to miss, because it's true in your life, should be.
It's what I'm going to call a pedagogical principle, or a principle of discipleship, a principle of teaching. Disciples should always become apostles. Followers of Jesus Christ at some point in their following the Master must exercise gifts, and give to other people, and share what they have with the world, or what's going to happen is they're going to end up very stagnant and stale because they're not fulfilling the purpose for which God has them on the earth.
You are a disciple of Jesus. You follow him. That is not the endgame in God's mind. He wants you as disciples to graduate to apostles, to be sent out somewhere: next door, around the world, some way to represent Christ. Because this is what happens when disciples don't become apostles—they just come to churches, and come to churches, and come to churches, and end up being those who just complain about everything. They'll write e-mails, they'll send little notes; they'll not give a phone number—just to complain.
Because they've gotten so inactive, the only thing they do is see as something that's negative, and so they'll gossip, and they're the 10 percent that are the troublemakers. The cure would be this pedagogical principle, this principle of discipleship—when a disciple becomes an apostle. You'll come back so excited, you'll want to use all your words to bless, and to build up, and to encourage, and report what God can do instead of grumbling. It's just—no time for them, no time for them.
"So they departed," verse 32, "to a deserted place in a boat by themselves. But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew him and ran there on foot from all of the cities. And they arrived before them and came together to him." Now, if you can just picture—those of you who have been to Israel, you're already picturing it. His headquarters was in Capernaum. If you leave the dock in Capernaum, and you start moving toward the northeastern shore to a town called Bethsaida, which is where they're going to go eventually, there's just a four mile distance.
And the boat would have launched and gone close enough to the shore that anybody on the shore could see it. So it's like the news, the buzz gets out. Remember, the buzz is amplified now. Jesus can't make a move without that buzz spreading around that town and all the other towns. "He's in a boat. He's in a boat. They're with him." And so crowds would see him and move with him, anticipate where he was going.
"And Jesus, when he came out, saw a great multitude." How great? Five thousand men. That's just the count of males, plus women and children. Easy a crowd of fifteen to twenty thousand people. So he's not over estimating. He's not overshooting this. When he says a great multitude, it's not like forty-five people. That's how pastors count. I mean, this is the real count.
"A great multitude and he was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So he began to teach them many things." See that compassion? Do you see that? Splagchnizomai is the Greek word. Could you say that? Very good! That's a long word—Splagchnizomai. It literally refers to the intestine. Splagchna is your guts, your entrails.
And it was because of the belief that the deepest emotions are felt in the pit of the stomach. You know what that's like. Some of you would hate to stand in front of somebody or sit like I am and that just petrifies you. If you were up there, you'd feel it here. Or if you get anxious over something or excited, you feel it in the pit of your stomach. So it became the equivalent of your heart, moved in your heart. You know, but they would say in those days, "I'm moved in my guts. My bowels are moved."
Now, today that means something very different, in those days it meant the most intense form of emotion. [laughter] I'm not being funny with you here; I'm being serious here. That's why the old King James will say, "having bowels of compassion," literally. It will read that, "bowels of compassion," referring to this idea of being moved.
Jesus was so often emotionally moved when he saw people. At the funeral of Lazarus when he saw Mary and Martha weeping and the crowd weeping, it says Jesus was troubled in Spirit and agitated. When he was in the garden being arrested and he said, "If you're seeking me, then let these disciples go." He was compassionate for them. When he was on the cross dying, he's thinking of his mother, compassionate for her. Always compassion.
But don't miss this: because he sees the crowd and he's so filled with compassion what does he do? What does he do first? What does it say? He teaches them. He doesn't say, "I'm so moved with compassion, I need to feed them." The number one priority was to teach them truth. That's an act of compassion. The most compassionate thing you can do to a human being is tell them the truth on how to get to heaven. It won't be pleasant. It'll make you look bad. It'll feel bad when you do it. They'll mock you for it. But if you love them and are really compassionate, you'll teach them truth.
"He was moved with compassion, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd." That's an Old Testament axiom. '"So he began to teach them many things. And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came to him and said, 'This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late. Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.' But he answered and said to them, 'You give them something to eat.' "Don't you love that?"Oh, Jesus, what are they—you got to send them away. They gotta eat." "Feed them." "What?"
"They said to him, 'Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?' "It's interesting that this figure—the grocery bill figure—would be two hundred denarii. A denarius was a day's wage for an average day laborer, a blue collar worker. If you went by today's standards, I think the base pay is $8.50 per hour, this would equal—two hundred days' wage of that would be $13,600. So let's translate it. "Jesus, $13,600 wouldn't even pay for it."
Now, you wonder did he just come up with a figure, or did they? It says the disciples; one of the other Gospels tells us exactly which disciple it was. A guy by the name of Philip. Philip was probably the guy—he's the accountant in the group. He's got a calculator for a brain. He immediately starts going, "Ten, twenty, fifty, a hundred, a thousand, two thousand, five thousand. Um, $13,600!" [laughter]
By the way, I love the concept of eating a meal with Jesus; don't you? Would you love after service tonight to go out to dinner with Jesus? Just the thought—having a meal. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock," Jesus said, "If any man will open the door, I'll come in and eat with him, sup with him." Do you know what? One day you will—the marriage supper of the Lamb. You'll get to sit and dine with him in your glorified body in the kingdom. We'll be thinking of this when we do, no doubt.
"He said to them, 'How many loaves do you have?' "Literally rolls, cakes, they were just tiny little things about that big."When they found out they said, 'Five, and two fish.' And he commanded them to make them all sit down in groups on the green grass." Mark is the only one who gives us this little nugget telling it wasn't just grass, but green grass.
Why is that important? Because it sets the date for this in the late winter or early springtime after the—or between, perhaps, the early and latter rains that come; that's the rainy season. The rainy season is like California, the rainy season is the wintertime and the early spring. So this is when the grass is green. In the summertime it's all dried out. That's why we like to get tours to Israel somewhere in that part of the spring so you can still enjoy the beauty of that if possible. Usually we miss it, but we try.
"So they sat down in ranks, in hundreds and in fifties. And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fish he divided among them all. So they all ate and were filled." "Satisfied" is another translation. "And they took up twelve baskets full of fragments and of fish. Now those who had eaten the loaves were about five thousand men." Matthew says, "besides women and children."
The word that Mark uses here for men is not the typical word for men, which would be anthropos or anthropois; but andres, which is gender specific. It's speaking just of males; just the male count was five thousand. It doesn't mean the only people in the group were men, there were children and women, but the count was about five thousand men. So it's an enormous crowd.
"Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he sent the multitude away. And when they had sent them away, he departed to the mountain to pray. Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and he was alone on the land. And he saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night he came to them"—surfing, I mean, "walking on the sea, [laughter] and would have passed them by.
"And when they saw him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw him and were troubled. But immediately he talked with them and said to them, 'Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.' And he went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled." Listen, look at all those descriptive words.
"For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened. And when they crossed over, and came to the land of Gennesaret and anchored there, and immediately came out of the boat, the people recognized him, ran through that whole surrounding region, began to carry about on beds those who were sick to wherever they heard he was. Wherever he entered into villages, cities, or in the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch the hem of his garment," just like that woman had. "And as many has touched him were made well."
So you can see that Jesus couldn't move without being noticed by thousands upon thousands of people as he has replicated his ministry times twelve. And it's interesting too that one of those twelve that saw the miracles of Jesus, and heard the messages of Jesus, and was able to even see in his own life, and perform the healings of Jesus was a guy by the name Judas Iscariot who the whole time was not authentic but a fake.
There's a lot of interesting things that we didn't comment on. I wanted to finish the chapter, because I just wanted to finish a chapter once. [laughter] So we finished it, and we can go on from there, and we'll go back and highlight a few things next time we're together.
Father, we thank you that you've given us the opportunity to consider the greatest of all lives ever lived, the life of our Master, our Savior, our Lord, our Jesus. You gave him; you gave your only Son so that men and women could become sons and daughters. Lord, just like you took these twelve men on a ride, the most wonderful journey of a lifetime, so you take us, you're followers, your disciples.
And you're great desire is to transform us, to equip us to become apostles, sent ones, to discover the mission, to discover our gifts, to discover the thrill of being a representative. Life takes on a whole new meaning when that happens. We pray that it would for us. I pray that it would for your people.
How thankful I am for a group of people that has an appetite that is longer than fifteen minutes, but a group that is hungry for truth, hungry for your Word, hungry to know, hungry to apply, and hungry to share. Fill us with your Holy Spirit as we leave this place and go out to our workplaces, our families, our neighbors, to be your representatives that we might come back and share what you've done through us. It's in in Jesus' name we pray, amen.