Mark

J. N. Darby.

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(Notes and Comments Vol. 5.)

There seem to me three very sufficiently distinct parts in this Gospel, besides the history at the end. First, the general history of His actual ministry in Israel, making them responsible for the reception of Him; this goes down to the end of Mark 5. Secondly, the development of His rejection, on the one hand, by Israel, i.e., of His testimony, and the preparation of His disciples for another order of things, on the other, in which His death consequently and rising again are pressed upon them. This includes His transfiguration as a preparative testimony to them of glory to come. This part closes at Mark 10:45. Then comes His actual presenting to Jerusalem as King, and His going through the judgment of God with the different classes there - Pharisees, Sadducees, etc. In this comes the warning to the disciples as to their consequent position in testimony as regards Jerusalem, only reaching to the Gentiles. This reaches to the end of Mark 13, His warning to His disciples closing it. Then comes the history of His final rejection, and resurrection, down to the end.

Note in the brief account in the beginning of this Gospel how the Lord is brought forward in the double character of His Person! First, He is Jehovah who comes withal after John; he goes before Him to prepare His way. That is the starting point of truth as to His Person; He who comes after John is Jehovah that was before him. Then we come to details but great truths. He baptises with the Holy Ghost - glorious individual competency to send Him, but for us through the fulfilled work, and glorifying of Man in His Person. But then He is baptised with the baptism of repentance - the first step of His people in the path of grace and truth, now sin was come in. Blessed truth! He, the Holy One, associates Himself with them in their path from the first, to them, needed step on. Then the heaven is opened to Him, the Holy Ghost comes down upon Him (sealed and anointed) and the Father's voice Himself owns Him as His beloved Son. Then He goes to be tempted of Satan, and to overcome for us. Wonderful scene, and wonderful grace! Other most important points I have already noticed, as the work through which we could have it - Christ in His own perfectness, Christ's having no object but being it Himself to heaven, we having it as in the place where heaven is opened to us. But the point I now desired to note was how the two were brought together. It is very striking, and how much flows out of it as to His place and ours! And how He entered into all our difficulties, perfect in all, and a Redeemer!

211 In Mark, after the Lord has taken His place, generally stated at the commencement, amongst men, i.e., the Remnant going right, and Man thus entered into the true full blessing with God, but here alone in His Person, heaven opened, Himself anointed with the Holy Ghost, owned Son with the Father, and the Trinity revealed, and then not the particular temptations but the desert place of Man here tempted by Satan (contrasted with Adam and Paradise) but angels serving Him from God, we have the various characters of His ministry - Mark 1:14-20, the fact, the time is accomplished, the Gospel of the Kingdom preached, and disciples called of the poor of the flock to be fishers of men; verses 21-28, authority of word, and power over demons; verses 29-34, the fruits of sin, sicknesses of all kinds, as well as devils, disappear at His word; verses 35-39, He is a praying Man, but sent to preach, and again we find demons driven out; verses 40-45, the outcast leper, man's state, a defiled sinner touched and healed. Here He is Jehovah, can say, "I will," yet touching man, and defiled man, undefiled. Mark 2:1-12, power to pardon sins, as Psalm 103, in Israel, proved by the other part, healing infirmities - here too Jehovah; verses 13-17, the Searcher of and Friend of Sinners; verses 18-22, His mission cannot be mixed up with Judaism, and, further, the Bridegroom was there, it was not the time to fast, but He would be taken away. The Sabbath (sign of the covenant) Messiah being rejected, has lost its Judaical title, and He takes the place of Son of man, and is Lord of it as belonging to man for good in grace, being Heir of all man's titles from God in grace. Chapter 3:1-6, further, grace is at work, and it is right to do good on the Sabbath, He is there to save, not to kill - they, their enmity drawn out by God being revealed thus, seek to kill, they are Satan's seed. This closes the character of the Lord's mission, and we have then the results. The testimony was in every way spread abroad (verses 7-12), the rumour of it, so that they came from every quarter, and, as ever noted in Mark, the evil spirits forced to own Him, but not allowed to speak. The message is sent out by Apostles whom He chooses, and He gives them power (verses 13-19), but the Pharisees commit themselves to unpardonable sin (verses 20-30), and then (verses 31-35) He rejects His connection with Israel according to the flesh, and owns those who have really received the Word. This effect, and the sowing of the Word, its result in the world, He then enters on. God had set up the truth to give light, and they were responsible to give it out, and all should be made manifest, and their service judged according to what they had received. Then, at the beginning, the personal service of the Lord was engaged, and at the end, at harvest; meanwhile it grew up as of itself. Further, it would be in the world as a great power. They would be tossed about, but the Lord was in the ship with them, and faith should understand and own this, though, for man, He was asleep. But winds and sea obey Him. We have then the general present result - power there to bind Satan wholly, but rejected by the world - the Jews rush to ruin, and the healed and delivered Remnant sent to announce the deliverance received. Then He comes to Israel to save from death, but the real case is death, but faith in the Word saves from the deadly state by the way. Power used by faith. But He will quicken the dead. But a prophet is not received in His own country. This closes the moral history, so to speak. He sends out His disciples, and the enquiry is raised, "Who is He?" But this introduces rejection, in the spirit of murder in the case of John His forerunner. Still He shows Himself the Jehovah of blessing according to Psalm 132, but dismisses the Jews, sends the disciples away alone, and goes up on high; He rejoins the ship and all is calm, and the world, which rejected Him before, receives Him gladly and is healed. Here the ship is rather the Remnant before His presence in Spirit with us - He is in the ship.

212 We then come to another section - the moral question with the Jews (chap. 7), then, deeper, the heart of man, and then the heart of God in supremacy towards even Canaaneans who had no title, promise, or ought save the curse - divine grace meeting need and faith owning its true position. But for this it is God, and not the Son as David, though this He fully owned according to promise. Now His dealing with Israel is taking one deaf and dumb away from the multitude, and opening his ears and tongue in grace; still He is here in divine compassion on the multitude. But it is "I have compassion," not 'Give ye them to eat.' It is not seven but twelve. It is sovereign goodness not promise, and order in power. But His disciples too are dull of heart to understand; they see men as trees walking - they see, but nothing clear as yet. But here too the man is taken outside the town. He is getting out of the mass of Israel in His work of power, not presented to them; and, when Peter owns Him the Christ, charges the disciples strictly not to tell it, and then begins to tell them of the Cross and resurrection - the new starting-point of man. Peter earns the title of Satan, for savouring the things of man, not of God. The Cross and denying self are insisted on, on the double ground of the folly of exchanging one's soul for anything, and the glory to be revealed. This is now shown to the three. Moses and Elias disappear, and Jesus remains alone. The rejection of John is referred to as intimating the rest. But He descends still to man's misery, but, though intimating He was not to remain long with them, shows the same grace and power meanwhile as ever, but returns to the Cross with His disciples. They still cling to the Kingdom, and greatness, and the Lord shows the practical spirit they are to be of, connected with the Cross, and the world utterly hostile - shows judgment to come, and then warns them as to abiding consistency. Judgment would try all in some way, purifying power those consecrated as an offering to God, but if salt lost its savour, nothing could salt it. This they were to have in themselves - separation from evil, with others at peace. We are here, evidently, on wholly new ground. The Lord now shows God's full sanction and maintenance of what He had instituted, and that the creature, as such, was good from His hand, but that the heart of man was wholly departed from Him - none could but He - and for man salvation impossible, but not for God. To this, present blessing and persecution is added. And again He urges the Cross upon them and, in contrast with the Kingdom, the spirit they were to be of. Then commences the last history, and presentation of the Son of David at Jericho and Jerusalem - the power of grace in the place of curse, but judgment in the seat of the Throne and of the Temple. In chapter 10, deliverance to the Gentiles is added to the fact of the Cross. The first is the change in the position of Christ, and the nature of His service in that chapter.

213 In this Gospel I have only to notice what has been long remarked, only strikes me more strongly, how thoroughly it is the exercise of ministry, and characterised by it, and briefly and rapidly brings this out.

214 Mark 1

John the baptist baptised to repentance for the remission of sins. This has led me to dwell more on the Christian character of forgiveness - non-imputation of sin, and the revelation of God's righteousness. It is of moment to keep both clear; a positive, actual present forgiveness, so that my soul knows God has de facto forgiven me, but it is equally important to know what it is to have no more conscience of sins, as perfected in perpetuity (eis to dienekes), Christ having obtained eternal redemption - put, out of the whole condition of alienation and guilt, into a new place of perfect, divine favour. I must come for actual forgiveness as guilty; but in Christianity, where the work is accomplished, and Christ, when He had made the purification (katharismon) of our sins, sitting down at the right hand of God, it is a new creation and no imputation. Now this is known only in Christianity. I do not believe the other, administrative forgiveness, could have been had without atonement, but then it was the dealing of God in His present dealings with men, and so it may be now, as in 1 John 5, James, and 2 Corinthians; in the governmental ways of God. If Christ had been received, no doubt the past had been forgiven. Nor was more as yet revealed; the righteousness of God, for the remission of sins that were past, was not. Men sinned, and divine displeasure was there, and they were forgiven. But now the work that puts away sin has been accomplished, and we know it, and stand in its efficacy as a new creation, our sins being borne and put away, having access into the holiest, and, more, brought to know, and have fellowship with the Father, cry, "Abba, Father." We are brought to God according to this favour and love, and the worth of Christ's sacrifice - a wholly new place. The "baptism of repentance for remission of sins," though it has led us on further, yet did not, I apprehend, go beyond the present dealings of God. No doubt when accomplished as to Israel, it will be based on the same great truth of atonement, but it was brought in as a present dealing with Israel, and so will be, at the end, but then manifestly based on the sacrifice of Christ. But "eternal redemption" is a Christian doctrine exclusively; the veil marked the previous state of things, though there was more than that. Man comes for forgiveness as responsible in his relationship with God, but he finds himself introduced into a new one, unknown till Christ had ascended on high - "made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light."

215  - 16. They were called long before, personally, but this is question of ministry - "The beginning of the Gospel."

- 19. "In the ship" (en to ploio) - "afloat." It is the universal idiom; so eis oikon (in the house); so in English, too, because it is appropriated; so too eis polin (into town), verse 45.

- 21-28. The character, and the position and experience, if I may so speak, though briefly yet therefore more powerfully, has been set before us up to this, and the brief accumulation of characteristic points is what characterises this Gospel, and this character and reservoir of ministry has here been wonderfully, and so perfectly, declared. We now come to its exercise. He took it as presented to Him amongst those among whom He came to minister. He was sent - acted His own way among them. As to His word, it flowed from the source - it was not questions or subtlety of admired genius, but of authority. It gave rest when received. It was the communication of the mind of God, with the consciousness that it came from that source, and was that. He began in ministry from Galilee. This was after the first three chapters of John. It was His public ministry, for then John was not yet cast into prison, and the call of the disciples was to companionship in ministry; they had followed Him from John's baptism. But it was not only the authoritative power of the word over conscience, manifestation of the truth of God, so as thus far to set aside the evil of Satan, i.e., to natural conviction, or more, but the manifestation of power by His word (of authority) over the evil spirits when outwardly manifesting their power over the bodies of men - he was there in their synagogue, and there was no power against him, though the man might hear many things, and exercise his understanding on their reasonings. These two characters of the power of His doctrine are remarkable.

We may note the phrase "Possessed by an unclean spirit'; the unclean spirit was in possession of his mind, and faculties - absorbed by in their source, not merely led by presented temptations, though this was just as morally bad, and ruinous in some sort as to present sin, and responsibility more so. But this was an existing character of Satan's power, and an occasion of the manifestation of Christ's. The power over the intellectual and physical faculties was such, that the man spoke as if it was himself, while in truth it was the demon. This was a different thing from demoniacal prophetic spirit, though that might be connected with the former, and man may be "in the Holy Spirit," in the blessed sense of it. Here "he cried out"; it might be difficult to know which to refer it to - man or demon - but in fact, and really it was the same thing, the man cried, yet it was "by the unclean spirit," and therefore it was really the unclean spirit so using him, and here speaks so, and is as such answered by Christ. The complete possession of him by this evil power is manifest in the identification with all the evil spirits; "What have we to do with thee?" It seems to me, however, the despairing spite of a forced confession. They had, as between them and man, full and conscious possession and they were vexed, and forced out by the presence of the power of a mightier Spirit, and another and mightier Person - a Man, a despised Man - Jesus, the Nazarene. And then the spite, which yet redounded to His glory, for the lower, the more was their inability to contend with the lowest form in which God could be manifested and the new Man act proved. There was a Man with the Spirit of God, for so he is met here - Jesus the Nazarene, the Holy One of God! God indeed, blessed for ever - but here met on his own ground. This was the terrible thing for Satan, met where his power in right was, but by a thought which he could not grapple with - a Man in whom he had nothing, and who in the power of the Spirit had proved an influence over the soul, which trod on the darkness of his kingdom, bringing light in which forced forth the confession of what was tasted and understood then. All he sought was to be let alone; he had nothing to do with, nothing in common with Him, but the full presence of the good continually - yea, I believe ever when in power - forces out the evil of the enemy, because he feels it, and cannot bear it, as the saint is oppressed by his power too. "Jesus, the Nazarene" was the terrible thing. Till He take away the children, he reigned there among them, only increasing the demonstration of his power, but here he was met in the scene of his power by Beneficence which had humbled itself thus. "Jesus, the Nazarene," was the hopeless terror of Satan and his evil: "Eh! what have we to do with thee?" was all he could say - nothing in common, and a power he could not grapple with. "Art thou come to destroy us?" adding, "I know thee." All his knowledge was the consciousness of what was before him - not divine - He was "The Holy One of God" - he knew this wondrous Man - he could not help it - His presence called it out, but doubtless the teaching had not lost its effect there; the reasoning of the scribes produced no such extorting effects. The man had stayed quiet enough in the synagogue till then; if ever Satan's malice had been shown in the midst of them, it was not in saying, "Eh! what have we to do with thee, Jesus, Nazarene?" - there was no Jesus the Nazarene there then. But now he must submit - that, as we have said, was all he could say, save the expression of his spite. This was no holy acknowledgment of the blessed Jesus as the Lord in love, his heart found no refreshment in it. It was no action of His word in grace - His spirit was grieved, and His power repressed it, and subdued it. What a contrast! What a picture! Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Hold thy peace, and come out of him." Who could resist the word? Power against Satan, the adversary, closes all. But what a thing is the human heart to deal with!

217 The unclean spirit in his last expression of vexation and rage tearing the man, with a great cry, came out of hum. It was a wonderful sign of deliverance. They were astonished, saying among themselves, "What is this?" His fame spread abroad.

- 30, 31. Immediately after, with the same disciples alone, yet called, another form of inflicted evil is presented - sickness, violent sickness. It neither repressed His love, nor escaped its exercise - the energy of good in that blessed Minister of the Father, for so He appeared now; on being apprised, He does not avoid the evil, but it flows forth, removing the barrier and unaffected by it, save as evidence of the power which remained unaffected in its display, not the subject of its action, but acting on it. He took her by the hand, and the fever left her. Evil fled before His touch, which, being in power, contracted no evil, and she arose and ministered to them. And (verses 32-34) as we have said, not in self-displaying wonders, but in an overflowing patience of untiring good, allowing no mixed testimony from Satan, He ministered the witness of God's goodness come amongst them.

- 35. Here also we have the dependence of the Lord witnessed in all this. We must modify this by no specious pretext, as if the Lord's prayers were the only untrue ones ever offered among the assembly of saints. His arm was not shortened; He clothed the heavens with blackness, and made sackcloth their covering; He dried up the sea, so that their fish stank; He could do what He pleased, but this state of things is easily and blessedly explicable. The Lord God had given Him the tongue of the learned, that He might know how to speak a word in season to him that was weary. He wakened His ear morning by morning. He opened His ear to hear as the learned, and now, with this early-wakened ear He went forth to hear, and to hold that blessed communion with the Father, where, in a world of evil, alone His soul could find delight and refreshment, and where He renewed the strength of His joy - the conscious ground of His coming forth into the world, and in the apprehensions of His soul all passed in intercourse with His Father. The most blessed, perhaps the most interesting part of all our Saviour's life, and where He brings us in Spirit with Him, into His Father's presence, into His Father's bosom, where He pours all His requests, and passes through the evil in the strength of it. (Oh, it is a blessed portion! Are we to suppose the Saviour the only Man who never had it?) And so to be an example. How, withal, does the Holy Ghost intercede in us? Far different as we are from Him. He had His own portion in, and He loved to be alone with, God, though always the Servant of all. Blessed Jesus! May our hearts follow Thee there! It is a good thing to see Thy perfectness. This was His way in ministry; may it be ours!

218  - 36-38. We see Simon's eager and leading character soon show itself, and, so to speak, the beginning of that intercourse between the servant and his Lord, which was shown afterwards in so many blessed passages between them. He had not scorned to go and lodge with His poor disciple, and though His Father s house and His Father's bosom, even here below, were His natural home, He took all in grace that thus was presented to Him by His poor creatures. He was among them as One that serveth - their Companion, and their Friend - a blessed and meek example. Still to His Father He returned, apart from all - the first, the earliest there. Then, when amongst men, their Servant again, but His therefore in it. Simon, and they with him, followed Him, and having found Him, now beginning to feel the importance of His ministry, expresses it! "All men seek for thee." This (in such a case) was nothing to Jesus. He sought not where He had importance; He had His Father's will to do. He came ever fresh from His Father's heart - the goodness of God manifested in the perfect sympathy of a Man bearing all, come down amongst them. Surely this had connection with this hidden intercourse with the Father (and how does it strengthen - of who has sent us - and that we in our place come forth from Him, in whatever inferior, but at least fully responsible sense), "Therefore came I forth," and what was on His heart, "That I may preach there"; He does not say, "Do miracles." Intercourse with the Father always makes us the servants of men. And what blessed and adoring familiarity with Jesus, does His life give us!

- 39. "And he was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee"; there His ministry began. And this, drawing Him into conflict with Satan, His power shown in casting out devils. We must remark it is ever "their synagogues." He went among a people He was separate from, and that was their state. He was a Servant, but in His own power among them.

219  - 39. "The demons" - those known too well as such - curing and meeting this well-known sorrow.

- 40 et seq. We have then the hopeless and repelling case of leprosy; so noticed under the Law as a characteristic evil, the very type of sin, for which there was no proposed remedy, and whose cure was the act of Jehovah Himself, and to touch which by man was defilement at once, and he who touched set apart with the leper. The priest's recognition of the cure was the recognition of Jehovah. Won by the goodness displayed to all other evil, the leper, who should separate himself from all, and warn them with dust on his upper lip, as unclean, comes to Jesus - a bold step, but who could not be bold with Him. And wretched defilement arrests His love no more than sorrow, danger, and trial. The poor leper fully convinced of His power, and humbled in the sense of his own need and misery, only distrusted his claim on the Lord's attention. He knew, if the Lord was willing to do it, He could cleanse him. But it was more an application of power to his need, suggested by that need, than the excellency of that power in Jesus Himself which occupied him. He said He had power, but power is usually distant and high in man; he came, uncertain of His will, and falling on his knees to Him, and yet after all insensible of the power of Him who really was there. "Thou canst make me clean," was his thought, "if thou wilt." But in meeting with this deadly, and sorrow - bringing evil, there was greater power and greater grace than he thought, which met indeed all the need of his heart, for so God does ever in His grace, but manifested a great deal more in the glory of His Person - that glory which fills all things. Man met in his extremest misery, and God manifested in His highest glory in grace, and all Satan's thoughts more than baffled. For, indeed, this case of the leper was a crowning case in the synagogue - the place to meet God instead of reasoning and the presence of Satan. Authority in the Word, and Satan cast out. Authority over the mind of man by the Word, and Satan cast out by this ministry of the Father in power, going forth in perfect humility into the world, entering withal into the local trials which were consequent on this state of misery, and the Servant of all the crowd about them. And as He was simple, though astonishing all (for He was the Truth and the Lord God, and had no exaltation to seek) so He returns to Him (as one of us might have need) whom He sought ever to glorify, that all might be done with Him - yea, as Man in exercised dependence on Him, and then pursues His work, without reference to the opinion produced by it. "For therefore came I forth," I and He fulfilled it perfectly (His mission). But when thus sought by the most abject, then to accomplish mercy, there was One only could meet the case; who could it be? The great secret burst forth to faith. This crowning act of meeting evil, revealed One who alone could do it unsoiled. "He had compassion and touched" - Ah! who could do) that, and say: "I will"? He stands manifested to the secret eye of faith, though yet hid, perhaps, yea, in one sense, concealing it, or acting in the ordinary train of service to man - "Go show thyself to the priest, and offer what Moses commanded," etc.

220  - 41. We have just here our Lord's way of meeting with our entire and manifested (confessed) wretchedness - "Moved with compassion," that blessed feeling, God - feeling, for it was looking down on the sorrow, but feeling as Man come thus amongst them. Then stretching out that hand of power, and yet to touch the evil in unsoiled purity (which if another had touched but that hand of sin, repelling power, they had been soiled and shut out too by the evil) but He was not repelled. He touched him, and not only that, but communicated to the Man His interest in his sorrow, His meeting exactly his request; but this withal, though it told His heart towards him, was a word of princely, divine power: "I will, be thou clean." The answer of peace, but a divine one. It was Jehovah's act; He had now done and wrought the thing. But He returns to the quietness of existing circumstances, not yet broken down by His death, and to personal insignificancy when it concerned Himself, and sends him forth, charging him to tell no man, but go to the priest, and offer what Moses commanded for a testimony to them, that Jehovah might be glorified, for His power had done it - the leprosy had instantly departed. But he spread it, for His glory could not be hid, so that He could not come openly into town (eis polin; there is no article - in fact any town), but was in desert places, and they went to Him there.

221 Thus the full character of His ministry by word, and against the power of evil was manifested, dosing in the manifestation that He was the Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Healer of leprous Israel, in the manifestation withal of compassionate love. He was willing to do it. He had come for the purpose. He was not deterred by their sins. Satan had no right against Him, though Israel might be subject to his power. He would take the diseased by the hand, and touch the leper, and command demons away by a word. And though He might be getting the tongue of the learned, His arm was not shortened at all, that it could not save. That was not the reason of their putting away, but "There was no man." Though His glory was such, He was obliged to be as a Stranger in the city. The leper came, the previous evidence being given (and, as the Remnant, healed was a testimony to the rest) so the paralytic - he was brought and was forgiven.

Mark 2

The exceedingly striking and rapid succession of illustrative facts in all this part of this Gospel is very remarkable. It is not even character, but acting continuously flowing from the energy of the will of God, passing on either at the call of others or evil, finding streams of its own benevolence - a constant activity of blessing suited to God - a manifestation of all this in the world - active goodness displayed of God towards the evil and sorrow, and in help laid on the Mighty, so blessedly expressed by Peter in that very epitome of the Gospel: "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power; who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him." This perhaps struck me the most of anything on commencing to read this Gospel; let any one only read the first few chapters with attention to this, and, by the Spirit, he will see how this divinely shines forth - I say "divine" yet was it as anointed of God - but, "For God was with him." Who knoweth the Son but the Father?

222  - 1. He returned after some time, many days, into Capernaum, and it was reported that He was in the house, and then we have a history which, as to the nation, shall only have its accomplishment when He returns. From this verse to verse 12 is a very, a most important character of the ministry of the Lord Jesus - "Power on earth to forgive sins." In verses 14-28, the character, morally and relatively, of His ministry is shown by the circumstances; verses 14-17, 18-22, 23-28. Also, with the character, the reception of His ministry begins to develop itself. This develops itself in chapter 3:1-6; verse 7 recommences again.

The attractive effect of Jesus' ministry had been shown in the previous chapter, so that He could not come into the city for the attention it had excited. Its vindicated truth, and power on cavil is shown here too, and then the chapter (its fulness having been briefly shown) gives us its reception, and, in a few brief statements, the transition to another economy. John and the Pharisees, the best outwardly, used to fast - first then the Bridegroom was going to be taken away - next, there was no putting a piece of new cloth into an old garment. Again as to another and more apparent form of righteousness, the Lord takes it off Jewish ground altogether. There could not be a more complete setting aside of the Jewish economy, for it was the seal and sign of that covenant as the place of God's rest - "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. Therefore the Son of man is Lord of the sabbath" - the true Lord, as Son of man, of God's rest, into which we shall enter. This took up the whole thing on a higher and deeper ground - God's rest with man - through the Son of man. As the forgiveness (shown to Israel), the principle of grace in calling the publican had been laid as the characteristic basis of His new ways, so the newness of the dispensation in its nature and power, and the fasting in the Bridegroom's absence, and the new and full width and scope of God's rest came out from all this.

223  - 2. "He spake to them the word." This was His business, and His sheep hear His voice. The rest was merely confirmatory or condemnative.

- 5, et seq. "Jesus, seeing their faith, said, Son, thy sins are forgiven thee." This very term was paternal, and divine kindness. Israel was His son, and it was in mercy, and mercy to declared sin - the real great need - for indeed Israel's sin had brought them very low. Become helpless, they were now - alas, for the truth - made slaves to Gentiles instead of princes with God. He was meeting them as their Lord. But reasoning could see no such mercy, no such power in God, in spite of all the evidences afforded of who He was. "Who can forgive sins but God only?" An abstract truth, where there is not the knowledge of the Person of Jesus, is always ruinous. Mercy is not understood in the human heart, nor when the blessed God comes in it. He proves to them His divine character in knowing the thoughts of their hearts. "Why reason ye thus in your hearts?" And then, alluding to Psalm 103, which showed both Jehovah's task of mercy to Israel - that being Messiah's song of praise for the mercy to Israel - what He, Jehovah, was to it, He asks, "Whether is it easier to say thy sins are forgiven thee," or "Arise and walk?"

- 8. "Knowing in his spirit," precludes all doubt as to the divine knowledge by which He perceived their thoughts, as also, "Why reason ye in your hearts?"

They could not understand mercy, nor the divine presence of Jesus, in discussing Him and His Person, but they could apprehend the evidence of that mercy in sensible things - hence miracles not converting, though they may attract attention, but leaving without excuse, as they also confirm and convince. Therefore the "But that ye may know that the Son of man." Here was a great truth of all importance - the divine Person of the Son of man (yet serving in ministry, being such). It was not merely the Messiah supplicating, or praising Jehovah, but the Son of man exercising divine authority, and proving it by divine power in His acts. Moreover (quite another thing) that He was the Son of man was all important. "I say unto thee, Arise," was a word of simple authority. Mercy, divine power met in the Person of the Son of man. Divinely competent, and humanly interested and sympathising, yet God in that sympathy; not merely, as we have said, Messiah claiming, or praising for, but Jehovah in the Person of the Son of man accomplishing these things in mercy, because they were ruined - meeting the very Lord they had to look to for forgiveness of the sin against Him, in deliverance - the consequences of it, yea, in then giving proof of the mercy that was come. This was what was presented to Israel. It was come down - the Son of man on earth was there restoringly, in the power of that mercy, and proved it, and they owned, and had to own they never saw it on this fashion, but they glorified God, and so were attracted and impressed. But it does not appear they apprehended the Person of the Son of God, and this was the whole question of real present deliverance. It was addressed to Israel, a ministry to Israel - while the Church learns the grace and excellency of the Lord in it, the ministry was to Israel.

224  - 10. Note, "Son of man" is the title Jesus gives Himself in this Gospel, too, as in Matthew and Luke. It is true also of John, when He speaks of Himself, but there He speaks constantly of His Father, so as to draw attention to His being Son, and owns it is calling Himself "Son of God." But it is as Son of man He speaks, and this is to be much noted. Still He speaks of Himself as "Son of God." Note too the words "On the earth to forgive," are very material. We are so accustomed to assume Jesus to be the Christ, that we really do not weigh the force of these things; they seem concentrated from inference, or peculiar design, in this Gospel, so as to give us them in their simple power.

- 13-16. This ministration and testimony to Israel ended, He goes forth out of the city by the sea - a time which leads forth to a wider range - and calls, and associates Himself with, that which was even an abhorrence to Israel. He went and taught the multitude, and, passing by, He saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus, sitting at the receipt of custom, called him to follow Him, and went and dined at his house - perfect familiarity with this reprobated character, tantamount in principle to His going forth to the Gentiles, to Jewish feeling the same thing, but He pursues His course of love and grace on His own principles of righteousness (for which in se among men there was not one) but doing His Father's will, and manifesting His Father's name, which was His righteousness. Publicans and sinners were with Jesus and His disciples - such was the company, stranger to them really than to Him. He knew why He had come, separate as John for righteousness, but divine in grace for outcast reprobate sinners. "With the publicans," the Holy Ghost classes them, and indeed the publicans were signs that Israel was lost, and God on their grounds (being wicked) did not interfere. But, in pride, there was no sense of this. Satan addresses himself, in the pride of the Jews, to His disciples, casting the question, for them to answer, on their master. Why not go to Him, if desiring a reason, for instruction or enlightening. But there was an ear which watched His people's temptations; He would lose none of them, and, standing up in their behalf, gave the reply with the simple but unanswerable wisdom of simple truth. Often we see men acting thus; the folly of man's wisdom! But what an answer! But note, it amounted to this - grace was not understood, and this must produce all; otherwise, folly as to God's dealings with sinners. All hangs on this.

225  - 17. "Not to call the righteous, but sinners." There is no "to repentance" in the original. This is important and interesting; not as though the other were not true, but it comes with more decisive and emphatic force thus.

- 18. They then come to Himself as to the point, not of His conduct, but why He was more negligent in what He permitted to His disciples than those who had the character of righteousness, even John. This seemed a fair ground, still total ignorance of the dispensation. They inquire first on the petty consistency of Pharisaism, or in the grosser ignorance of the very testimony John himself gave. As they were ignorant of grace, so were they ignorant of its power, and of joy. The Bridegroom was there; what was a Pharisee then? They cannot fast while they have the Bridegroom with them. How sad the ignorance of human wisdom! When it comes in contact with what God has actually done, it knows nothing of it. But there was a solemn warning to them which they were equally ignorant of - the Bridegroom would be taken away; for, having not understood grace to a sinner (and they were sinners) grace which would let in a poor Gentile too, and resting, even after, on the rotten righteousness of their own nature, and pretended sickness, and turning even John's calls to repentance into a sanction of it, the Bridegroom who was with them, and whose presence or the meaning and joy of it they could not understand, would be taken away from them, the Jews, presuming on their own grounds and righteousness. Still the disciples must partake of this sorrow. So, if Israel turn to go round the wilderness, Caleb and Joshua, though quite separate from the evil, must go round with them. The faithful Remnant may be separate from the evil but cannot be separate from the sorrow. So with the Church, so Daniel in Babylon.

226 Such was the end of His ministry among them. Still the Lord was going, however rejected, to bring in new wine, new cloth, and then the terrible judgment. Their bottles were no good for it. Their dispensation must be broken up, their garments had lost their texture, they could scarce cover them, and could receive terrible judgment - nothing now could be mended by what God was to send by blessing. It was too full of blessing. The new wine He was about to send must be put in new bottles. Such was the solemn judgment on the state of the dispensation under the Lord's ministry, and the effect of this upon it. It was really judged from their reception of it - its state, alas! alas! discovered. It had been His beautiful flock - He spared, at any rate, no pains upon it. But how simple and solemn the judgment on this foolish, wise, self-righteous question put to Him after His answer to the question to the disciples?

- 21, 22. I cannot doubt the genuine application of this is the confinement of the energy of the ministration of the Spirit to the necessities of Jewish forms, though I have seen other interpretations of it. This really closed the discussion on His ministry, presented fully in its character as it had been, as before their eyes, or rather God's estimate of the relation they stood in towards it - their reception, the nation's, of it. The way in which it was presented as a present responsibility is marked from chapter 1:15, and this was His service, verse 21; verse 38, after prayer and communion with the Source of service, and verse 39. It was His ministry through all its processes of application. Man, God as Man, entered into conflict with Satan, in mercy, but making it His business by testimony to draw men back to God, though His glory, hidden as it was, broke through in so many instances. In chapter 2:13, He turns to the multitude; so in chapter 1:44, He sends the man for a testimony to them. Thus rapidly is the varied constancy of His ministry brought before us in this short account. It was a wonderful testimony; the result we have seen. He had been manifested, to faith, as God to the leper, though He might retreat into His obscurity and renouncement in sending him to the priests as a testimony. But, even so, as a necessary testimony of who He was; and He had been manifesting that the Son of man had power on earth to forgive sins.

227  - 23. The general rejection under the ministry was manifest. But there was another point - the sabbath had been given them as a seal and sign of their covenant earthly blessing - creation rest to this people. They held to it for their own glory and righteousness in the flesh. There was nothing evil in what the disciples did. They condemned the guiltless, but the Lord did not here take it up on this ground. The anointed, rejected King of apostate Israel had, in His rejection, a title to rise above the order of the system which rejected Him, in faith in a higher Power and higher hopes - so Christ in Person. They having rejected here the ministry so wonderfully addressed to them, in which the glory of His Person, Jehovah there as a Man touching them in compassion, and they perfectly stupid as to this, He takes His own character and title as Son of man, without reference to them - sorrow and rejection having forced Him to His own place and estimate of where God had set Him. How often is this the case! How actually strengthening the rejection, when God is known, and His thoughts towards us! So Christ.

- 27. "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath." This, after all, was a very wonderful truth. But when we get Christ, truths come out; for He, the God that made, and the Man that takes up the blessings, has a right to teach them. God sanctified it because He rested in it, yet was it made for man. Here was He who made it, and who was a Man. But what a truth! Compare Proverbs 8. If God works and rests, even in His own delight, it is for man. No wonder man is exalted - and, no wonder, degraded and ruined, if he departs from Him. Christ takes this up, and fulfils it, takes up all these rights of man in God, in Himself in righteousness. "The Son of man is" therefore "Lord of the sabbath also." It is not only, then, as God He has gone beyond any Jewish expectation of Messiah visiting them, and in grace, but as Man passing, beyond all Jewish conventional appropriation of it, into the portion of man as of God, and in God's own thought, and entering, as we have seen, by their rejection of Him in that, into the full title and glory of this. The despised, rejected Son of man is not under (His own institutions) but Lord of the sabbath as Man. It was made for Him, as well as by Him as God, and, for the first, being who He is, He is Lord of it. "The Son of man is" - this is a wonderful truth - most wondrous!

228 But the test of doing good was still to be put to them on this. If there was any likeness in them to the God that made the sabbath, and did it for beneficence, and could have no rest while man was in sin and misery, here it was not a sabbath to Him. But they knew not God. But the blessed Lord, if He remedied the sorrow, grieved at the evil, at this utter ignorance of the very character and nature of God which, under the influence of the enemy, they pretended as righteousness and zeal for Him, as afterwards they would even kill His servants to do Him service, because they knew not the Father nor Him.

After all, this is, indeed, a most important and deep - reaching statement of the Lord on this subject, and makes its way through much of the argument on both sides, and clearly throws us entirely on the ground on which Jesus places us on this subject, whatever may be the source, etc., of obligation.

- 28. Even "of the sabbath," which had been made so very central a point of the Jewish religion, and strict traditional observation. Let all the words of this sentence be fully weighed, I cannot sufficiently admire the fulness of their bearings. This sentence also gives us deep and important insight into the term "Son of man," relative to our Lord, as comparing it with Hebrews 2:9. Who, indeed, can read this sentence, unmoved and unastonished?

Note the end of this chapter, the whole of chapter 3, and almost all chapter 4 (with other matter, as John's message) are introduced in Matthew, see chapters 11, 12 and 13, between what corresponds to Mark 6:13, 14, or between verses 6 and 7 of Luke 9. It is the phase, in Matthew, of the condemnation of the Jewish estate, and at the same time, in consequence, Christ rendering testimony to John believing for himself, instead of John prophetically rendering testimony to Christ. Hence we learn also that the Holy Ghost, in Matthew, though more consecutive in facts than in Luke, orders the matter according to the intention of the Gospel, i.e., the testimony to, and condemnation of the Jewish estate by reason of their rejection of their Messiah. Mark is the most simply historical of all, and passes with the greater rapidity therefore from fact to fact, for, though brief, nothing gives the events and circumstances, with such striking historic force as Mark, or such a mass of miracles and service of Jesus; see chapters 6:33, 54-56; 1:32-38, 45.

229 Mark 3

Although Mark leads us into the same main thought as Matthew, closing with Israel at the end of this chapter as Matthew at the end of the twelfth, and then in each the Sower, yet there is a great difference besides the leaving out the birth, and the like. There is no dispensational development. It is historical, to the same effect of what was then taking place, but no developed principles of relationship, nor what will be true in the last days. You have no Kingdom, as it is now developed, after the parable of the Sower, but we have Christ personally active at the beginning, and, at the end, the harvest. Meanwhile it grows up, as though He knew not how. You have the simple fact that externally it would grow to a great power in the earth. It is much more historical. We have the facts as they then occurred, with their then bearing on His rejection, and Israel's state.

- 2-6. On this rejection, He asserts Himself, and in grace proves Himself Lord of the very seal and sign of their covenant - the sabbath; but earthly rest, when Israel knew not its God even in mercy, there was none. But mercy was taking its place, and would have its way. The Lord was angry, being grieved, but acts now in defiance of all this in their synagogue. It is in the synagogue, He does not shrink from the public avowal of the character in which He had come, and His rejection of their notion of iniquity. Yet, it was done in grace, and an act of grace. He puts the case plainly before them, makes the man stand forth for the solemn adjudication, and manifestation of the character of their God, as in question between them. It was not enjoining strict silence now - they were silent - and He shows publicly the power in which He acted. Would God do good on their sabbath in a world of sin and ruin, or let the ruin stay when He could righteously hinder or remove it? All the man did was to stretch out his hand - often they had done infinitely more - then the instant act of beneficence meets it, and it is publicly healed before them all. God in power, as Christ in service, proved them wrong publicly. But now, as before they rejected, they show their hatred and enmity in their conviction - they would not do good, but they would be active to do evil - not "save on the sabbath," but hold a council on the sabbath how they might destroy Him. And the openest enemies could take counsel together for that - union in opposition to Christ is a well-known truth in Scripture.

230  - 7-12. His character was now fully displayed, His ministry exercised and put in question before man, and man's judgment passed on it, i.e., indeed his own, of enmity against the presence of God in grace come in power for his own mercy. But there was an evil will, hatred against the Lord. Man had rejected Him - His character was settled in the world, publicly settled among the leaders. They had been put upon their trial. They might carry on their schemes in private, for the thing was completely concluded and decided, but their plan was to get rid of Him, as a public nuisance to them - they could not bear His presence. The Lord might order His preservation as His Servant whom He upheld, His Elect in whom His soul delighted, He might exercise the glory of His divine power in ministry, but, as between Him and the body, their position was settled, and the Lord so acted. He departed with His disciples (so Paul we find acting) - they, as His slayers and enemies, pursued theirs, keeping up the credit of their own system, but withal really bent upon getting rid of Him. But while He went away with His disciples, this did not arrest His career of good. There might be trial as between Him and them, which had ceased, but the service to which God pointed His heart and love in doing good, was still all before Him, just because of these things. He pursued it because it was the expression of God's heart to man's need, and displayed God, even His Father. The rest seceded into their own place, left behind, and took their own character; that was all (so must it ever be expected). Divine glory went on on its own errand - all this was behind. He had nothing to do with their consultations, but He pursued His own course clear from them. He went to the sea with His disciples, and a "great multitude" followed Him from Galilee, from Judaea, from Jerusalem, Idumaea, beyond Jordan, and Tyre and Sidon, so that a little ship was His only resource. So much for the mere hindrance of human opposition or malice until God's time was come for greater things! The demons, in like manner, were forced to own His glory when they saw Him, but He would not allow them to tell who He was, leaving it to the testimony of grace, so that it should be real acknowledgment, as of God by grace.

231  - 13-21. Thus labouring, after the public manifestation of the nation's enmity against Him, the Lord now withal takes a public open part in using all formal means for gathering. He calls whom He would, and they came to Him. Such was His power also in this service of ministry - divine power, it was not of man. This was done apart; He went up to the mountain, and called them to Him. It was not for the multitude, but done separately, as in intercourse with the Father, or from it at least - not displaying it to the world but acting efficaciously in Himself. It was entirely between Him and them, calling to Him whom He would, whom He should send from Himself to stand, as sent by Him, before the world, or rather the Jewish people, but before men - first to preach, then to heal, and cast out devils. Of these, in the same sovereignty directed by the ministry of Christ, Peter, James and John held the most distinguished place, each according to his known qualifications, known and thoroughly appreciated by the Lord (though even these, when a further ministry came out, though they seemed to be pillars, made no difference at all - God accepteth no man's person - they added actually nothing. But now the Lord was acting within the Jewish range, though rejected by the rulers and apostates - the nominally righteous, and the lovers of worldly authority), the rest also in their order. This done, the Lord returns to the house. He is now thoroughly and publicly embarked in blessing to Judaism, but in a thoroughly independent mission and calling. He had been rejected and refused by the rulers and religion of the nation, and He must act for Himself; a separate and independent part of which, as its independency, was seen, so the consequences were soon felt or supposed - thus, not only preaching and doing miracles, but sending chosen servants to preach and call men to the same truths which He came to present in His Person, and to teach. This gave it a clear character everywhere, for it was an active step, testifying that all were wrong, and that they must look to Him. On this (and it is no wonder, if one sees the principles they acted on, and He acted on) His friends pronounced Him mad, so that they went out to get hold of Him. And thus called out by the multitudes, which thus roused by their jealousy, the scribes blaspheme, the active enmity of Satan, hopeless where mercy, active mercy comes, is drawn out to discredit what He would do, from feeling what He was doing, though by a charge which contradicted itself and condemned them. Where truth is active in mercy (therefore supposing and charging sin in all) Satan's constant hostility is to be looked for.

232  - 22. His friends might preserve their natural character, and think Him mad, but Jerusalem, the people who had the character of the Lord's people nominally ("who say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie") and as nominally nearest the Lord, really the highest in pride, and furthest from Him, more immediate instruments of Satan, and more deadlily opposed to, because their real character proved by, the presence of righteous grace. So it always is, and hence ecclesiastical wickedness is always much the worst. Others may follow, be open rebels, perhaps be swallowed up, but the gainsaying is the "gainsaying of Kore." Ahithophel is the subject of David's complaint in the Spirit, more than Absalom (see Psalms); and this we have to note. His friends might think it folly, these men knew it was not - they must call it wickedness, and ascribe it to Satan to conceal their own. The scribes, the instructed Jews, who came down from Jerusalem said blasphemously, "He hath Beelzebub." But what meekness, calmness, yet what simple, and clear, unequivocal judgment from God! As wickedness proceeds by the rejection of God, the word of God proceeds in judgment. All is in testimony; therefore the power is viewed as of the Spirit, and the judgment is pronounced on their blasphemy of it. Christ was as a Servant, the Holy Ghost as the power, for He ministered by it, as He plainly testifies. So they - "He casteth out" - it is not "It is all false, he is not the Christ, crucify the Son of man," or "Who is he," but "He casteth out devils by Beelzebub." The act of power is recognised, Jesus here was but a Man, and God is blasphemed in His own act of power, for power was admitted in the Person of the Holy Ghost in Jesus come to manifest power in grace against Satan (for Christ came to suffer) to deliver man by destroying the works of the devil, in this wonderful conflict in man's nature against Him; Heb. 2:14. For though the Son worked, yet was He only known such by the Holy Ghost, unless one special revelation to Peter, and the Holy Ghost in this sense not yet given; and though the Father that dwelt in Jesus did the works, yet He could not be known but by the Son. These blessed relationships in the divine nature were yet hidden, at least almost completely so to man, and Jesus therefore stood before them as a Man, as Messiah, saying He was the Son of God. But they owned the Spirit, as doing wonderful things aforetime, as a power working in and by Man; this then was veritable blasphemy of God in His known, and even, I may say, national operations, and now in special mercy, and in Him who was working, in the full manifestation of it, for the very wants of burdened Israel, His dear people. How hard is the human heart! What a picture when under Satan! That Spirit had spoken by prophets, had wrought by Moses, for He had put His Spirit within, and had shown many mercies and benevolences, but now He did what He had not done before, for it was in the Person of the Son. The Son of man forgave sins, and cast out devils; the first they disowned and slighted, and the last, which they could not deny - awful word! they ascribed to Satan himself. There was no remedy, or judgment alone remedied this evil. "In danger of judgment" - then would be known in power, not merely by the Spirit, who that Son of man was, the Son of God. They might talk of Beelzebub, to meet the prejudices, and weaken His influence among the people, and account for what they could not deny, but there it was. The Lord, while they threw it on the natural prejudice against this god of the Philistines - the Lord took it up on their real condition with God, and asks: "How can Satan cast out Satan?" It was making Satan good, and not ascribing, when clear good was done, that good to God. This was the fullest and clearest blasphemy, and wilful though blind; for the act of beneficent Satan-chasing power was admitted, and confessed. But these scribes from Jerusalem were to teach the people; but there was no reproach, but an exhibition of the folly on their own statement, and the judgment on the blasphemy - man's folly, on his own reasoning. The blasphemy was Satan's, of which, for his own interest, man became the creature and slave. They said He was destroying Satan's power who was doing that. Alas! for man. When Adam sinned he was disobedient and seduced. Satan manifested the character against him which these now manifested against the Second, and when that Second was exercising the full divine energy of the Spirit to cast Satan out. There was no forgiveness. Now the Holy Ghost is the Servant rather, and the circumstances are different. Christ is above the reproach, save in His servants and people. If it were not Satan against himself, then it was a stronger than he.

234 "But verily I say" - here was the judgment pronounced. It was not ignorance of His Person, but calling the Spirit that was in Him Beelzebub, which was the evil. This point is not then a question of His Person, but of the recognisable power in which He wrought, and it was nearer their conscience, in outward acts of beneficent, Satan-destroying power, to recognise the Spirit than the Son or the Father. These were brought out in the subsequent dispensation - there the irreclaimable state was apostasy, not the irremediable sin, blasphemy, though that might come in as a consequence too. The consummating sin of a dispensation is always sin against that of which it has the light, not merely evil practice, though that leads to it, nor obscurity as to a hope leading to another, as the proposal of the Son of man here, although that proved darkness, nor the ignorance that He was the Son of God, which supposed fresh revelation and showed their blindness. Though these things alone could remedy the state of things, and in the communication of the Father's name gathered a people, the consummating sin was the denial and rejection of the light they had, in ascribing to evil a power and working which, in their own dispensation, they ought to have recognised. And this is applicable to the present dispensation; the Father and the Son are revealed - denying them is an Antichrist, and wherever the liberty of the Holy Ghost to act in what He gives, without further authority, in grace is hindered or opposed it seems to me the principle is there, though perhaps restrained and not bearing all its fruit. There may be many other things evil, but not to this. Things which could alone remedy, which may not exist or be received, hopes which could alone recall, or the rejection of which showed the ruined state of the Church, but did not constitute this opposition of apostasy to the glory of Christ in the dispensation, and therefore did not constitute its fatal and final sin. We may assist the ruin practically, as in Hebrews 6, but it is denying the Father and the Son which constitutes its public actual manifestation.

- 31, 35. In this the Lord clearly passes, on what we have seen (verse 30), to the rejection and refusal of all His natural ties - the cessation of them, that is, to the Jewish people, and the assumption of those who did the will of God, His disciples, into the place of this relationship; this, even while the multitude were all around Him before He went away. It was a testimony also to them, now plainly, openly given, and given on ground which reached the conscience of the lowest (quod nota), when, if listened to, it would in grace bring him on to full principles and their understanding. "For whosoever shall do the will of God" - His disciples, soon they would be there. He might plainly state the great principle of apostasy in the clearest light, but He would, in the rejection of all formal connection with the place where it was found, use the first principle for the simple ones that would draw them out of it. His mother and His brethren were not only a type, though they were that, of the Jewish people, but the principle - it was knowing Israel after the flesh, Christ after the flesh - all this had failed, had apostatised in Jerusalem; the power presented in witness to it had been ascribed to Beelzebub - for Satan will give his own name to the Lord to drive men from Him. Further, this was no particular affection for such or such disciple, though this might exist, but He looked round about them in a circle who sat around Him, and said: Whosoever hears me, and so does the will of God.

235 This chapter closes the general presentation of Christ in this Gospel (as in Matthew 12). We have then the general idea of the Word (as in Matthew 13) and the personal work of Christ at the beginning and end - seed time and harvest - and the general public display and diffusion of Christianity; but all in parables expounded to the disciples, for it was the new things of the Kingdom. He seemed asleep while it was going on, but He was in the ship with His own, and commands the waves. Chapter 5 gives the delivered Remnant, (to become a witness) the Jews, and the world - their relative positions. Then, called to hinder the death of Judaism, faith gets the blessing by the way, but He has to raise from the dead, though kept and owned as alive in a certain sense - has no honour, and can do little in His own country, sends the closing message, and the false king beheads His forerunner. But He is the Jehovah of Psalm 132 in Israel, and full administrative power in Man in His power, dismisses Israel, goes up for intercession, rejoins the disciples, and there is a calm, and the world now receives Him. In chapter 7 Israel is morally judged, man's heart shown, but He reaches out to the Gentiles where there is faith, Israel being owned, but cannot deny what God is in grace for any, if faith reaches to it - a beautiful witness and picture - (this truth came in not in quite so lovely a way - title more than goodness - at once in Matthew 8) but He does open the deaf ear and loose the tongue of Israel, but He takes him now aside out of the multitude. It was grace but not a direct testimony to them. Then you get the seven loaves - divine perfection with Israel in itself, not human administration; the disciples even only get their eyes gradually open; the blind man, too, here was taken out of the town. This closed His association with Israel. They had many opinions - He, the Cross (the living God and the Church have no place here) and so His must follow. The glory of the Kingdom is shown to them in connection with it, but it was not to be told till He was risen from among the dead. Rising "from" the dead is distinctive here.

236 In Christ we have not merely miracles as proof of personal power, but the setting aside evil, universally healing all that were oppressed of the devil, universal setting aside of his power, and his goods seized. Next, they were miracles of deliverance - the power of God. Next, He can give this power. This is met by the spirit of the world; His friends think Him mad - for the unclean spirits who bound man's heart did not - and in the ecclesiastical body wicked malicious opposition - they preferred attributing good to Satan and throwing the people into his hands, to owning Him. Lastly, He rejects connection with Israel, or any, as to the flesh, owning only moral subjection to God.

I do not know how far the beginning of Mark is made clear, as a whole, in the Synopsis, but I give it here with a view to resting somewhat on a particular part of it. Up to chapter 3:13, we have a picture of the Lord's ministry after the introductory matter. The details thus: John's preparatory ministry with water - Christ to baptise with the Holy Ghost; chap. 1:1-8. Christ associates Himself with the Remnant being baptised, is anointed and sealed with the Holy Ghost, and owned of the Father; then meets the adversary who held man captive, is tempted in the wilderness with wild beasts (not Adam's place), served by angels (verse 9). Thus (chap. 5:13) all prepared, and John cast into prison, He begins His ministry, preaches the Kingdom of God at hand, and repentance, gathers round Himself persons who leave all to be with Him. His doctrine with authority - with power, for the demons own Him and are driven out. Next, He heals the diseases of man himself, brought in by sin - it is not exceptional or occasional, the crowds came and were healed. He retires and prays. All men seek Him, but He came not to have crowds, but to accomplish His service - He must go to other cities to preach, He is sent for that. He goes, doing it round the country. Next, He shows that He is Jehovah in the midst of Israel, in mercy - the leprosy, which none but Jehovah healed, and which, if one touched a leper, made him who touched him unclean, He not only can but wills to heal and touches the leper, undefiled but driving away defilement in a grace which the defilement of man did not drive away, but draw. It was in Israel - for by their pronouncing on the leper, the priests were witnesses to themselves, that the power of Him who could heal the leprosy was there in Israel; chap. 1:14-45. But grace took a more positively developed character. He forgives sins (and proves, according to the government of God in Israel, He can, by healing the paralytic; see Exodus 15:36, and Psalm 103:3), He receives sinners, and even makes an Apostle of one; came to call them, as a Physician to the sick, not the righteous.

237 But further, as to His ministry, the disciples cannot fast while the Bridegroom of Israel is there - besides He cannot put the new power into the old vessels of ordinances. The sabbath tells the same story. To an outcast David, and surely an outcast Messiah, where was a Jewish covenant of rest? Freedom was there - all should be for Him. Besides the sabbath was for man, the Son of man, the Heir of all man's rights and blessings from God, and therefore Lord of it. The scene in the synagogue tells the same story as to doing good. How clearly this tells all the characters of His ministry! The Pharisees and the Herodians seek to kill Him, but the crowds from all parts follow Him, so as that He should have a little ship to wait on Him, for He had healed, and the unclean spirits were forced to own Him. He forbids their telling it. This closes the characterising His ministry and service.

Two points I would yet remark; first, the Lord so far from distress or uncertainty in His place with and relationship to God, not only sees the heaven opened, but has the direct witness of the Father, besides the descent of the Holy Ghost, to His relationship with Him, and delight in Him. This was the position in which in the course of His ministry Jesus was certainly set by God, not one of distress, anguish, indignation and anger. This is not true as of God, most surely not as of unbelief in Jesus. He did come into the later state when the hour of the power of darkness came first, and of wrath in substitution afterwards, but His living place of service on earth was in conscious favour, revealed by God the Father Himself, and sealed by the Holy Ghost. That He may have at any time anticipated another state is quite true.

238 Further, Satan attacks Him, as he attacked Adam. This is true, but, led of the Spirit, He freely offers Himself to the attack, as He did to His final suffering from God's hand as a sacrifice on the Cross.

Note, this chapter which closes the relationship of Christ with Israel as in ministry to win the nation, unites the choice of the Apostles with the rejection of the nation. Chapter 4 presents the connection of the responsibility of those who heard with the propagation and witness of what they heard, at the judgment of God which referred to it - that the Lord seemed to let all grow up as it might, but He only watched the time of harvest, and then acted again Himself immediately - lastly, that we are in the same barque with Jesus, foundering in the storm, though He seems to sleep, and as to perfect peace care is out of the question. Chapter 5, I judge, in this respect gives more details on the breaking up of the connection of the Lord with Israel, and its true character on its renewal - a Remnant, under the power of the enemy, healed - Himself expelled, and the healed left behind Him as a testimony. Satan hurries Israel, unclean, to ruin. The child whom He goes to heal, has really to be brought to life, though the Lord looks on it as only asleep. On the way faith, in the woman, heals - a principle which lets in Gentile, Jew, or any.

In following merely the dispensational bearing of these passages, we have the Lord scarce received, as being the carpenter's Son, in His own country, and thereupon He sends out the testimony of His disciples, urgent on the cities of Israel, bringing judgment, if rejected, worse than Sodom. Then the sin of doubting Israel summed up by the violence of Herod against the witness of the Lord as far as it had gone. So that Jesus and His are in the desert, but, the people thronging in their need, He shows His Jehovah power of blessing to the people's need, and, dismissing the multitude, He goes apart to pray (on high) and returns to His disciples walking on the sea. They perceive, and are alarmed, but He gets into the ship, and all was calm, and they astounded, though the previous testimony ought to have sufficed to make Him known. He then brings blessing with Him when He arrives. This all gives us His rejoining the Jews in the latter day. Peter's walking on the sea to meet Him is, on the other hand, going forth to meet Him before He enters the ship. In chapter 7 the moral part of this question is raised, and the pretention of what man was contrasted with the reality of what God was. The heart of man being contrasted with his outward religion which set God's word aside, and then the most distant, dispensationally, from God - a cursed Canaanite, of unrepentant Tyre - if there was that faith which knew how to count on what was in God's heart, overleaped all dispensation, had all it could wish according to the power in Christ only. The heart was reduced fully to recognise not only its need but what it was. After this He opens the deaf ears, returning, I apprehend, to Israel according to the grace in which He had visited (but now unstopping the deaf ears) not at Jerusalem, the rejected nation, but in Galilee, where in outcast Israel the light shone in the trouble and darkness; Isaiah 8 and 9.

239 After the miracle of the seven loaves and the four thousand - proof of His abiding love and care for the poor of the flock - and the obstinate and stupid unbelief of the rulers and leaders of the nation, it seems to me that the condition and unbelief of the disciples comes on the scene. Do you not see, though having eyes? When He did open eyes, it was sometimes only as trees walking, that men saw. He instructs them in His sufferings, and Peter rebukes Him (for He spake it openly, and what was prudence, when things were so?). But the Lord presses the Cross, and confession of the Son of man, in the face of that generation, and then shows the glory. Then the rising "from the dead" (not "of the") puzzles the disciples. The Lord continues to open the real state of things to them as to Elias and John the baptist for example, and the unbelief of the disciples again meets Him, and the question of faith in the people, in whose unbelief as to full power the disciples are here involved, is plainly put. The power of Satan was there, and of old, and the power of the Lord now come in grace, and the man says, "If thou canst . . . have compassion" - for indeed the unbelief of the disciples ministered to that of the poor man. The Lord, in a few plain words, declares the question of power lies in that of faith. The "if thou canst" is "if thou canst believe." "Have you power to believe?" But indeed nearness to God was needed for power. The Lord again presses His rejection on His disciples - this was His ministry, as it were, now. They dispute for greatness. He presses (touchingly identifying Himself with them) lowliness, and the rejection of His name, but anything done for His name to them, done to Him. The spirit of a true disciple is then further and fully developed in lowliness, self-judgment, in hatred of sin at all cost, a judgment would try all - the severe energy of grace be found in every true sacrifice to God (devoted person) - this they were to have in themselves. If THEY had not, where was good to be found? With each other, gentleness and peace.

240 On the whole, the disciples even had not the faith which made available His then manifestation of power. The nation therewith rejected Him. They must therefore take part with Him in that rejection - reject and cut off everything which put a stumbling block in the way, and manifest the energy of grace in self-sacrifice, for the energy of divine judgment would apply to everything. Hence, again and again, in all this part of Mark, He insists on His sufferings and rejection as a central point in all their position, and the implicit reception of the Kingdom as a little child. All these chapters are exceedingly important for the dispositions of relationship.

Mark 4

Chapter 3 closes the direct picture of the ministry of Christ, with His friends counting it folly, the rulers of the people blaspheming against it, and His own renouncing the ground on which Israel stood with Him, and taking that of the Word and its effects. What follows gives a general exposition of what was going on - sowing, not fruit seeking, responsible hearing, the Kingdom with the personal presence of Christ at seed time and harvest, and what the public effect of the sowing would be - not merely letting grow - but seeming overwhelming danger, though Christ was in the ship but as asleep. The whole history of the dealing with Israel, and the service of the Remnant after Israel was gone, and then finding Israel really dead before He reaches it, though He came to it as sick, but everyone who touched Him on the way, with faith, was healed.

His teaching accordingly assumes this character - parable - and giving an account in this way of His ministry, and similar, rather than exercising it (by direct declaration, "The Kingdom of God is nigh," etc.). The transition is now remarkable, His ministry being not merely parabolic but descriptive of ministry, and its effect brought in just when in fact the seed had fallen on the roadside - alas! that it should be so - of the Jewish religious people. But it was now to take its course as ministry. It was not a formal proposal to the authorities - that had been done - but a going forth to sow, a scattering it abroad; it fell where it might. If they had rejected their own proper mercies, no wonder it often proved way-side and stony ground. But this was its character now indeed. The Lord throws it back retrospectively. Their ecclesiastical or national rejection of Him had reduced them to the place in which this could be predicated of them. It assumed this character now, on the cessation of presenting it as their right in promise, from the "Minister of the circumcision," their blasphemy against Him, but they assumed their place under it. He had returned to the sea with this announcement: "The sower went forth to sow." But He announced it now in a parable; it ceased to be a direct national proposal, but he that had ears to hear was to hear. We have this judgment of the matter in verses 9-13.

241 We have in the parables the state and character of the dispensation, with its source, in ministry acting on men's hearts responsibly or efficaciously, not the prophetic history in detail as in Matthew, but its character as ministered.

"He began again to teach by the seaside." He went out there - this general public place as we have often seen before, and, Himself separated from the multitude, tells them how it was. For while He returned to the multitude which was on the shore, we have the additional circumstance that He was separated from them, isolated, not amongst them. He then gives, as we have seen, this character to His ministry - casting forth seed, let it fall where it would - good seed, but often in effect coming to nothing in the heart it was sown in. As to the isolation of Christ, we see it is no mere fancy, for He now begins at "those that are without," quod nota. As to much, it was labour in vain, this sowing. But note, this very fact of sowing, whether by Christ, or similarly since, is entirely a new thing. The Jewish dispensation had properly no sowing ministry, and John the baptist was only to Jews, and therefore was not the true light as not lighting every man in coming into the world. A Jew was a Jew born, and by birth without any sowing at all, and his business was to preserve himself a Jew. The Law was to be kept, and the Prophets only recalled them to the Law (see the last even, Malachi) though they might promise other things which sustained the faith of the elect Remnant when the people would not keep the Law, but departed from God. And even the Lord, as a Prophet, was sent as a Minister of the circumcision, the middle wall of partition in the flesh not yet broken down, but owned by Him as to the Syro-Phoenician woman. But then it was "To the lost sheep of the house of Israel," and this principle really at bottom introduced that principle which let in a Gentile, and recognised a Jew as on Gentile ground, as lost. And this was fully brought out after His death and resurrection, but not in all its light till the mission of Paul after Stephen's death - not of man, nor by man; see Galatians 1, etc. And you may remark that Paul, whenever he mentions his apostleship, always introduces the name of God which Peter does not. But while John the baptist introduced something new, the kingdom of God as coming in, and so was the pivot of the two dispensations - not in, but announcing the Kingdom of Heaven, and therefore the least in it greater than he - still he himself had nothing which went beyond the "floor" of Him that was coming. He stood in the desert, and cried in the desert, for desert the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts had become. But he did not go forth to sow; he came in the way of righteousness, and pointed onward, but sowing is an act of fresh grace, introducing a new seed by which life not there is to spring up. Therefore "Behold the sower went forth to sow." I say an entirely new act of life, bringing goodness, not expecting to find in the field, nor looking for fruit there. It is thus brought out now, for the first time, in parables, for it was, though exercised by the Lord within the old, really a new, to be understood by those to whom He could say "But to you," on the originating principle of the new or Kingdom of heaven, exercised also towards the old, but producing the new, not a similitude of but a principle introductory of, and indeed in fact to be exercised in the Kingdom of heaven. The consequence of this indiscriminate sowing, instead of looking for fruit amongst a supposed righteous people already planted, was that much was lost. First, much remained on the surface, and the devil took it away - it never entered, it was but on the wayside - civil conversation, or speculation on the discourse, perhaps admiring it, was the devil taking the seed away, for He is not speaking of opposition here. Other sprang up immediately, because it had no depth of earth; much of the Lord's sowing in fact did not spring up, had no effect till after His death. One sowed, another reaped. He went forth to sow with tears; a day is coming when He shall return bringing forth His sheaves with Him. Much light affection being attracted for a moment by the promise of association with the wonderful Person, the word springs up, but because there was no deep work, nothing weighed, it reached not the conscience - there was no deep distressing work which made them feel that all was wrong, and obliged them to condemn the whole state of all that was around them. This gives gravity, pain - we hesitate to do it, there is delay - we are right; can we take upon us to say all is wrong until the conscience is brought to a bearing on it? Judgment, in this case, is never pronounced, for it humbles, and we shrink from judgment, in sorrow, and in its weight on our own state. But the sun rose - tribulation sprang up after the seed sprang up, and as they had immediately received for the external satisfaction, they were immediately offended (verse 17) for the discomfort. They had no root at all - they were not in the question in their consciences - there was no life putting them in a position of understanding with God, understanding of themselves and Him. Then the thorns choke the next; cares well understood and groaned over, perhaps justified, but unnecessary, for so giveth He His beloved sleep. It was lost labour, and real selfishness of the flesh. Then there was the deceitfulness of riches - mark that word, for men say they can do good with them - and they gradually come round the affections; habits, ease, consequence, independence of others, and a thousand other principles which choke, because the word is a plant of God, and they cannot grow together. All that is in the world beside is dismissed as "the lusts of other things," thus taking up all, for "after these things the nations of the world seek." These enter in sorrow for us if they do.

243  - 5, 16, 17. Hasty entrance into the joy of Christianity is far from a sign of any true work of God in the heart - there is a deep inwrought sense of alienation which waits for joy till it be given in full personal reconciliation with Him from whom, in ourselves, we are departed by sin unto death. The other is not our own joy - it is a mental view of the joyfulness of the thing as proposed. Such, I believe, may have been felt, and by after experience found to have been false as regards ourselves, and worthless, and the whole internal real work of restoration to God by Christ have taken place afterwards by deep and abiding convictions of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Nevertheless we must remember that the immediate and necessary result of seeing the atonement by faith is peace, and eternal joy, but there is the trial of the soundness of that joy; and it may be immediate, and, if things were in order, would be much more so.

244  - 9, 23, et seq. Hearing is receiving, and what we receive we receive for communication in love. We are answerable according to the measure of what we hear, which is God's measure towards us, and, accordingly, it being given for communication in love, our faithfulness and love is tried by the comparison of what we receive and give. We are unjust towards God and man, if we are not, in life and word, witnesses of whatever grace has been dealt to us. Moreover, whoever has this faithfulness in receiving, increase shall be added to him - confided. "It shall be measured to you." Hence grace, in the parable, is rested on use of the talent without other authority, and so indeed here, the moment I have heard grace receives the word, and, being grace, understands it in grace, as a light lit up in the person, it is true, but to give light; see 2 Cor. 4:6, where the expression is very clear. It depends on our really having it, the sense of the grace, in our souls, its real value to ourselves, and our understanding of it as grace, i.e., our understanding and having it at all. And thus, he that has, and he only really has grace communicated who communicates in grace, "To him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath." This was true of the Jews who had the oracles, etc., but who indeed had them not, for they did not recognise Him of whom they were conversant. But to the disciples who had, all the glory of the Holy Ghost dispensation of Christ glorified would be given. From the Jewish rulers would be taken away even that which they had. This was a new principle, that what was given was, in its nature, communicative, for it was grace and light, and therefore impelled, and diffused itself, which was not true of Judaism; but, as to them even, what they had, but had not, would be taken away; and there cannot be a more important principle, and as essentially characterising Christian responsibility and grace in this dispensation, and knowledge of, and communion with, the mind of Christ who came as this Light. The love of Christ constraineth us, and, withal, that in spite of opposition, for we also believe and therefore speak. Therefore it is "Take heed what ye hear; with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you." The Lord will deal according to your dealing in this. Such are the principles of confided ministry. If man meddles to authorise, he meddles with the responsibility of grace to Christ, though he may encourage, own, and be blessed and bless, and labour in according to his place, and "To him that hath shall be given: and from him that hath not shall be taken away that which he hath."

245  - 11. Compare Ezekiel 3:26, 27, and similar passages in that Book.

The term, "He that hath ears to hear" is, in principle, just answerable to "The sower went forth to sow," for, though addressed to Israelites, it is not addressed to them as such in a given position, but in the discrimination of gracious workings in their own minds and souls. "He that hath ears," for then was sowing a word to be received, and it was a solemn matter, for many would slight, and choke, and deceive the word or themselves. But then, in principle, whoever had ears, this being so, it applied to and was for profit too; and here any Gentile, or any, whose ear God opened, came in. And it is as a solemn warning on the sowing of the seed, saying: "All is ruined - God is acting in grace, taking this pains actively before judgment on the objects, 'He that hath ears to hear let him hear.'"

When He was alone came enquiry, and explanation to the disciples, not merely the twelve but those around Him or with Him. And here comes the distinction noticed, not merely of the Apostles but of the disciples, that all else were now looked at as "them that are without"; but to know the mystery was the portion of "those about him with the twelve." To the rest it was all parables. This distinction, and its origin, is important, and sets this matter in a very clear light. There are still "those about him" - what marvellous grace! And "them that are without," alas! We must not be surprised if all be parables to them. Still, after all, we stand on another ground, for, the glory having been revealed, if it be preached really, we say: "If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost." There is no veil on the glory now; if there be, it is a mind blinded by "the god of this world, lest the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ should shine unto them." Thus the "within" and the "without" are formed by those who did greater things by Christ than Christ did, because He went to the Father, saying, "Glorify thy Son that thy Son also may glorify thee," having power over all flesh to give eternal life to as many as the Father had given him, Jews and Gentiles. Still, within the limited sphere, answering to what we have seen of the sowing, there was a "within" and a "without," here formed by the testimony on the nation and its effect - the privilege of those within to know how things went on, and the principles of the Kingdom. It was recognised the sowing had produced it, but the recognition proved the constant truth morally, not dispensationally, "all things are done in parables." In fact, from the time prophecy had begun this was the message, and whenever God sends a testimony at all it must be on this principle, or it would not be needed. As to Israel, the Lord was but the filling up of this - God had "yet one Son," and we find accordingly the same separating, electing principle of grace, but introduced suitably prophetically, "Behold, I and the children which God hath given me are," etc.; and this founded on "Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples." His message having been to the nation what is here quoted (though in it was to be a tenth) a message which hung suspended till God had tried everything, even to the gift of His own Son. But there was no remedy.

246 In the testimony to the Gentiles it is the full testimony of accomplished glory meeting the world in its pretences, and therefore, if hid, hid to them which are lost, in whom the God of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not. Here it is the diligent grace of this testimony, but acting within the limits and order of that which was sentenced under the prophecy, and now, all means having been employed, left to its full application - though, even then, the testimony of the Spirit was afforded, as Acts 3, where this special ministry is afforded of His return to that people; chapter 2 being the Gospel for the Church, or bringing it in, chapter 4 what shall be rather; see chapter 3:18 to the end. This proposal is an extraordinary act of grace, of a very wonderful character; it did not, in fact, finally close in dispersed Israel till the application of the same passage by Paul (Acts 28), and was consummated in their refusal to allow the preaching to the Gentiles, this sowing of seed in grace, as we see (Acts 22:22), and the sum of which is specially taught in that Epistle which teaches the Church to look up, as of God the Father, to its portion in Jesus and His coming to receive her to Himself; 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16. In verse 11 of our chapter we have first the distinguishing grace, according to the dispensation of God; and in verse 13 the reproof for the want of spiritual intelligence - they could not discern this first, and so simplest parable, which described the first principle of all that was to be unfolded in all the parables. They were the accounts of the Kingdom in its relation with the Jewish people. How would they enter into them, if they did not understand that primordial principle from which all flowed, and was the connecting link with the old system, and therefore thus addressed to the multitude? The spiritual thoughts which gave the key, while the parable gave the form, were not in their minds; so with types. But the Lord gives the clue, explains it to them.

247  - 21-25. Not only is Mark the Lord's service in testimony, but responsibility is also directly connected with this, as here with the parables, and also in chapter 13 at the end. These verses, connected as they are with what precedes and follows, connect in a remarkable manner hearing with responsibility of communication. The Word has been sown, but men do not light a candle to be put under a bushel. It is sown, not to lie in the ground, but to rise out of it and bear fruit. Nothing was secret but to be made manifest; hence, "Take heed what ye hear." It is a responsibility; "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you"; "To him that heareth"; and this evinced not in its remaining hid in supposed knowledge, but in the fruit bearing witness of effectual testimony ("Holding forth the word of life.") To him that is thus known to hear shall more be given; for this is to have. To hear then is to have, but it is to hear so as to have. The force of the passage is very important, and, when it is acknowledged as a responsibility, very plain.

The good ground brings forth fruit, thirty, sixty, a hundred fold. The word is the seed of one grain; one soul, quickened and vivified by the power of the inwrought word, becomes the living source or producer of an exceedingly multiplied effect, not only of righteousness but of testimony, and of souls brought to righteousness to be the vessels and depositories of grace and truth by the testimony, and themselves to hold forth the word of life. To this the Lord accordingly applies it. First, as to Himself as the Light, and then to those who received it as the instruments of its holding faith. And He said to them an additional principle in this discourse - "Does the lamp come that it should be put under a bushel or under the couch? Is it not that it should be set upon the lampstand?" Such was God's purpose - such would be true of Him, and the glory of His Person, low and hidden and humbled as He had come, emptying Himself for God's glory and man's good. But this was true of evil as well as good; the day would declare it. It was not the intention of God in the good; He would not permit it in the bad. Some might go before in their manifestation, and others follow after, and some good works be manifest, and, if otherwise, could not be hid. All that had ears to hear were to mind this. It may have had its conception and existence in this hidden way, but it would come out. It may be hidden, but it is that it should be manifested. As I said the main truth is Christ's hidden ministry, and Sonship, and glory; but it is the application of a great general principle which is behind the gracious intention as of God, as regards the Lord in verse 21 - gracious, but vindicating, and putting us first under the responsibility of blessing; secondly, security and peace when labouring in the presence of secret hidden evil - craft; and thirdly, the check against all hypocrisy in ourselves. Again the Lord adds, it being given to them to know, "Take heed what ye hear." It is seed to produce fruit. "With what measure ye mete," in diligent use of the word.

248  - 22. apokruphon (secret thing) the nominative to egeneto (takes place) gives the force nearly.

- 24. "Take heed what." Note the force of this! "With what measure," if, as it should seem from its connection with what goes before, applicable to the use of grace in ministry, is deeply material. And see what verse 23 is applied to! Compare Matthew 10:16, et seq. And see verse 25 introduced as in Matthew 13:12, and Luke 19:26; and we may see it used besides in its general application, Luke 8:18, in connection with this parable. Nor ought we to pass over the force which the use of this in the Sermon on the Mount gives. He, to whom grace is committed, is as much committing an injury, using an evil measure, as the unmerciful, a measure unanswerable to the goodness of God. It is unbelief operating either in regarding the persons of men in fear, or in faithless distrust of God's making good, as it were, the obligation in which we involve ourselves by the avowal of His Word in our hearts. That which we have not in the power of faith for real use, we have not in deed and in truth.

249 What follows is really instruction as to the character of the Kingdom, and its work, and therefore it follows here. But, as it was de facto not addressed merely to the disciples, it is not said "to them," but merely "He said" (verse 30). But they are brought together for the simultaneous instruction of the company on the subject. Yet it was for the disciples' profit, and, while addressed generally, explained apart to His disciples. He describes, having stated the principle - active sowing, and the responsibility in those that received the seed - the apparent character as regarded His care, and the great general public results of this now despised seed sown, as carried on by this ministry which acted by grace in the heart. He being away, the Kingdom of God, instead of being under His immediate and personal ministration, and active power upon earth, would be the way a man sows corn, and rose, and slept, and did not regard it, and it grew, and increased, the earth bringing it forth (apparently) spontaneously, and so really instrumentally - blade, ear, corn, but, as soon as the fruit is come, immediately He interposes again, for the harvest is come (here, again, paresteken, is come, as in 2 Thessalonians 2). So would it grow up in apparent disregard by Christ; but when the harvest was ripened, He would interfere. Moreover, rising from this smallest hidden seed now, it would become greater than all herbs, so that it would be a great corporate system with branches, not merely a plant, and could receive and protect what was foreign to its character and object, like the princes of the earth.

- 33. This, compared with verses 11, 12, is very remarkable. It was adapted to them perfectly, so that he that had ears to hear could receive it; but it was darkness to the wilful and disobedient. To the disciples all was made clear besides in private, for they had, dull though they might be, given up their will to His.

"With many such parables he spake . . . to them"; here we have "to them" again, because He has not been exclusively speaking to the disciples. But they are looked at here, however, as still the objects of the word, not as blasphemers. And to His disciples particularly He solved all things apart.

250 "As they were able to hear it," shows, I think, that though He had begun, on the blasphemy against the Spirit manifested in the rulers and scribes, to speak in parables, yet He continued doing it in mercy, patient mercy (wherein He never failed) to suit it to them, so that whosoever had ears to hear might find what was suitable to them

"He spoke the word to them as they were able to hear." What blessed and patient mercy! How worthy of divine dealing - of Jesus, according to the grace in which He came - acting not according to the good in them but in Himself, yet therefore laying Himself out exactly to meet their circumstances, even under the effects of evil, though, and even when, His conduct was a judgment upon the evil which had produced the effects! How thoroughly worthy of what we have learned in Jesus!

We have now the trials of the little company, and the folly of unbelief, as its principles and its apparent position in what preceded, and that in circumstances which acted as the test of their estimate of their safety, founded on their being identified with Jesus, if they had felt God's concern in His glory, the glory of His Person - the absurdity, if He really came as the Son of God, and if there were divine purposes to be accomplished in Him, and He having all power over evil and Satan here, of supposing that He should be thus lost by an accident, they could not have been thus alarmed. It is a blessed thing to be able thus to trust that though, to our eyes, great and perilous circumstances may arise, and Jesus seem to be asleep, unless He and God's purposes in Him be to be nullified, all His blessing and order towards His people must be accomplished.

It was now late. The shadows of a dark and gloomy night were shutting in on the unhappy people of God, and not only were the rulers condemned, but He leaves the multitude also, and becomes the companion of His disciples in their passing over in the ship they had. He enters, as He was, without rest or further care, into the ship. There were more interests than even the disciples, concerned in the storm which Satan was permitted to raise against the precious Burden of that little ship. All the enmity of Satan against the Church is against Christ and His glory, and that is our comfort as a consequence; for if he could destroy that, then we might sink, not otherwise. But what selfish folly thus to turn to self while Jesus, and all these other ships too, the objects of His care, if He were the Lord, were concerned in the storm. But Jesus was at perfect peace. He was asleep - His power hidden in this apparent removal from and insensibility to all that was going on, in apparent weakness - His power and glory, and that as involved in the circumstances, apparent only to faith. Their word is: "Carest thou not that we perish?" For unbelief is always selfish, and so will be found, and this was pure, wretched, stupid unbelief, seeing who Jesus was. It was, however, merely for His glory, even in them, though for their shame, He rebuked the winds, etc., "And there was a great calm," and their fearfulness and stupidity "How is it that ye have not faith?" Thus too is the Church launched forth to reach the other side, and encounters the storm; and many other interests are concerned of the world in the storm which Satan raises for its destruction, but in it Jesus is, though apparently insensible, and whether for Himself, it or them, we should account our safety in Him. There was nothing to hinder the other ships perishing, for He was not in them, but the blessing of an awakened Jesus shall produce peace for all; and all interests ought to show us that Jesus, whatever the appearances, cannot be lost in what is going on, and is concerned in it. And this applies to all mediately, to us directly, for we are in the ship with Him, or rather He with us. That we perish, is wretched when Jesus (and indeed so many else) was there. What do we think of Jesus, and of what concerns Him? It is astonishing, yet how often the case! We have Him in the ship, and He is perfectly at peace, whatever we are governed by the fear and storm which Satan has raised in his folly, instead of the peace which Jesus in divine wisdom and security gives. Satan makes the storm to destroy Jesus, and we take his power as if he were able to do it, thus owning, and as it were worshipping Him in fear - it having its effect on our mind, not Jesus, who if to man's eye, and really hid from the scene, asleep, is ever nearer them than all that man's care could effect for his comfort and safety. Oh! that we could ever look to Him! But the winds and the sea ever obey Him, when He rises up to rebuke them, and with them the unbelief which credits them more than His power and security, and thus wonders at what manner of man it was. Thus indeed has the Church been launched when Jesus left in it, though apparently asleep, that unhappy and now deserted shore, long the garden of the Lord for beauty and for delights, where He walked and found His delight among men on the earth, we now have Him as He is, His glory still hidden, though by faith we know what it is, and He seems asleep and insensible to all, but He knows the end from the beginning, and no storm troubles and disturbs Him, let Satan, the adversary, do what he will, and terrify us through our unbelief.

252 Mark 5

In this chapter we have an actual blessed display of Christ's power, and an evidence that the quiet influence of Satan is as fatal as the violent power he may display, and deliverance rests not on that but Christ's exercising His power, for the Legion was delivered, and the body of the Gadarenes sent Christ away. So, I apprehend, we have the account of what is consequent upon Christ's coming over, as it were, to the other side of this dispensation - the deliverance of a Remnant. The ruin and destruction of the swine, the filthy ungodly, by the presence of Christ Himself, given up to Satan, and then the Remnant spared, not allowed to go with Jesus, but sent back to say what He had done for him. But as Jesus really left the Jewish people then, so it had its effect then indeed too, for the Remnant were delivered, saved, let them have been the worst of all, it matters not then, and judgment and ruin coming on the Jewish people, the delivered Remnant were sent into all the country (first addressed to their own house, the Jews) to declare what Jesus had done for them. The opposition of those delivered proved nothing. Satan may have the most actual power, short of destruction, over those whom God is going to deliver, and the Lord may permit it, that his delivering power may be manifested for man's help. There cannot be a more instructive moral lesson of the manner and effects of Christ's delivering power moreover than this - its application to an individual soul, from the divine power which has preserved him, from the first thing which the demons did with the whole herd, though man could do nothing of it, to his desire to be with Jesus, and the duty set upon him by Jesus, on his deliverance, is most deeply and fully instructive; and also its effect on the unbelieving world, not themselves the subjects of this deliverance - this, in the view of Satan's power and bondage.

In spite of the rejection of Christ through the disturbance he makes - which Satan makes and is allowed to make, for Christ does not yet bind him, though He may deliver from him, quod nota - they prayed to be let stay there, and they were, but they use this permission to raise prejudice against Christ, and this was not hindered. But, though sent away by the world as Jesus was, because it created disturbance, or Satan did by these swinish enemies, the patient Lord of all grace having delivered from Satan, again introduces the Church, as it were, as the instrument of ministry in the midst of the world out of which He has been compelled to depart, sending it as the witness of what He has done for it. He says "God," and Legion justly says "Jesus." Such is the place of the Church on Jesus' departure from the world - lose this, and it loses the sense of its obligation to Jesus, as we have before noticed. First sent to His house, the Jews, but going in zealous sense of Christ's benefits and glory, throughout the region, then sent (the Church's office), and that as delivered. It is a beautiful picture of this grace. No evidence of grace in answer, without grace changes the heart. Loss of swine is more than deliverance of Legion, and the presence of God, even in deliverance, is painful to them that know Him not. The whole is a most perfect and instructive picture of Christ's brief presence in the world, its operations, and effects, and what they will be. I apprehend too that these two passages give us a picture of the Church in its trials - the storm when Jesus seems asleep, but they are to know that in divine security He is in the ship with them; hence the security of the Church down here in Him, and that in its greatest difficulties, tossed on the sea, cast, a little remnant as it were, among the waves of the sea which it cannot control. Secondly, in its duties - not yet allowed to be with Jesus, but sent back to the Jew as primarily thence (and the world) as an actual consequence to testify what God has done for it, though the world may have already rejected Him that did it. Also, I apprehend him that had been possessed by Legion, and those in the ship to be the Jewish Remnant which became the Church, the nation being condemned. The other ships "with him" (verse 36) might note the place of the other Gentile assemblies engaged in the storm, and brought to rest by the calm, though no further mention of them is made here. I have already noticed the latter day application of the Legion, and abstractedly it would apply to the ship too. Christ secures the elect, separated Remnant, though apparently entirely out of the way and asleep. And so in the Psalms and Prophets the Lord is often called upon to awake. In both instances they come to Him, first in unbelief, then counting His presence only a torment, and begging the Lord not to torment them, and adjuring Him by God not to torment him.

254 And note, we have a fresh instance here of the "possessed by an unclean spirit," and how the Legion of spirits identified themselves so with the man, that he speaks as himself though it be them. If the reading be right we have: "he besought him that he would not send them away." It is called, though many are confessed to be there, and therefore his name, Legion. "And he said to him . . . because we are many"; "And they besought him, saying." It is deeply and solemnly instructive this, and shows the power and complete possession, where Satan has possession. They are his goods, not the saints, though the latter may be tempted, and delivered to him "that they may learn," etc., and their spirit be saved. But he is in the world, and his power, as we see in the Gadarenes, is just as great though it be quiet; so we see in the unhappy Jews. He may, as in Legion, terrify to make men think that is all and remain quiet in their supposed difference (and perhaps just that one be the delivered one, though with the only effect on the world, to cry "Jesus"), therefore to go away and prove themselves the same as the first, only more open confession in him to whom Jesus was, because it was not their deception but "torment me not but I know thee." Look at the Jews, unwilling to go into the judgment hall when they had been accusing the Son of God before Pilate, and the name and nominal righteousness of God just blasphemed before a notoriously bad heathen by such pretence; they had bought His blood, knowing really the sin, seeing too and hating Him, and ready even to kill Lazarus, that the proof might not exist. But they could not go into the undefiling judgment hall to accuse Him. How horrible is the mind of man under this influence! So Judas - he was no Legion, no untamed madman, evil as he was before the Lord. "One of you is a devil," said the Lord.

- 5. Satan's power is paramount to nature, though ordinarily he may act on it, and we may quietly act under him with a reason, or follow our evil bent. But Satan tempting is a very different thing from Satan's power. There is sin in the former, because we follow the bent that God condemns; but the latter is paramount to nature - not sin but misery. This may be seen a little in despair, when the inclination to sin may be quite gone, and the power of Satan, even if used as chastening, much more seen. So here, the natural causes of fear were lost upon the man. The energy in him was paramount to the feelings of the flesh, even in what was connected with the fall. He wandered amidst death and desolation night and day; I do not say he did not feel the death and desolation. He seems to have been miserable, "crying and cutting himself with stones." That may be, still there was the paramount power, yet restrained. Had Satan done the first thing uncontrolled, as he seemed to, and uncontrollable as he was by man - had he done the first thing he did with the swine when permitted, the poor maniac had never seen or met Jesus. But there was a hand that held him in spite of all his power, and the raging display of it. But measured power is more confessed subjection than doing nothing, though it may show power and evil; so Jannes and Jambres - none but God could control that - it was "the finger of God." But Jesus was the manifestation of this power, and they knew Him, and asked His permission. It was He that had restrained them before too the same power. How blessed is this! Though humbling to see where we are, yet what a sight to see where Jesus is, and where He has brought in power! "If God be for us, who against us?" Power manifested in and for us, and that, though with divine power, His own power, yet in circumstance in dependence. Yet our joy is to see it in Him, for evil is, and the permission of its full exhibition, and that absolutely restrained in its highest exercise, uncontrolled apparently, always restrained by the power that now in humiliation for us, and that, by its worst effects in us, absolutely casts it out. There are wonderful truths (of grace); but what is not wonderful in Jesus? But in this state of things, there is no pretension to fellowship with Jesus. It is really a safer, more healthy state of things than being blindly led by lusts, or tranquilly following the world, thinking the possession of pigs in quietness better than the presence of Jesus, though His gracious, powerful deliverance was manifested. Yet how much of this remains in our hearts! There is a despair like Judas, when Satan has possessed us by our lusts against Christ after knowledge of Him in the flesh - that is, of course, a different thing.

256  - 6. It does not appear that our Lord was ever in the country of the Gadarenes before.

- 12. No doubt this, their will, was under divine control, for the purpose of exhibiting the real agency of the evil spirits.

- 21. We have here, I apprehend, the ministry of Christ with the Jewish people (all His ministry on earth was with the Jewish people - He speaks to us from heaven, from an accomplished work, though there may be many analogous circumstances and identical principles, such as the sowing but here with the Jewish people), and here on two principles, saving from death, and revivifying when dead. He was by the seaside, as we have seen before, on the border of Gentile waters as an outcast from the Jewish earth, holding thus His place as not one of them (now) but come to them. But, having passed over again, the Jewish condition is fully before Him. The proposal of the ruler of the synagogue was to come and heal his son, and Jesus went to do it. So He came to Israel, not as dead though found so, though Christ might, and did, and had to speak in vivifying power, but as to be healed. The great multitude were with Him, and they followed Him. He was going to heal this sick little daughter. What He will do when He really comes is to raise dead Israel. He did come to heal her, but she was found dead. But in the way, while the multitude were about Him, while in the way, there was one - this poor woman - one who had spent all her substance on physicians, and was only worse, where there was the sense of evil and ruin, and the discovery that help from man was hopeless, where there was also faith in Jesus while He was in the way in the midst of the crowd which followed, and, in the exercise of personal faith touched though it were but His garment. Thus did she now; and this was the way of their safety - individual believers among the Jews - and virtue went out of Him. The crowd were about Him, but one individual touched Him in the active exercise of faith. Here is the plain distinction as to means. They were saved from death; all was dying around them. The Jewish nation was now witnessed as a body of death. They might crowd around the Saviour (even after the scribes, etc., had blasphemed Him) but there still was not what alone now was of avail - the personal exercise of faith (through grace) and consequent identification with the life and the power that was in Christ. But some did touch Him, and were made perfectly whole. And this, in principle therefore, would apply to the Gentiles, for it is one God who justifies the "circumcision on the principle of faith," and, therefore, the "uncircumcision by faith" - a principle which at once brings them in, as the Apostle argues in the Romans, or rather the Spirit of God. But, in fine, the Lord reaches the one He had set out to visit, and she is actually dead, but He knew the power of life in Himself, and therefore calls it only sleep, and knew it in His sense to be so. But there was the manifest power of death on her, as far as all man's power, or thought, or skill went, and the Lord raised her, saying, "Damsel, I say to thee, Arise," and straightway she stood up and walked. All this paragraph, however, is the instruction of faith in the Lord's intercourse with the Jewish people, though necessarily therefore bringing in the Gentiles "by faith." And the ruler of the synagogue presents to us the exercise of that spirit of faith which watches over the condition of the dear Remnant, which in fact constitutes and is identified in such a mind with the nation. And thus is there exercise of faith which first seeks restoration, recovery, and so life, "so that she may be healed, and may live." Jesus goes with this, and in the way the exercise of individual faith finds His power wasted, ruined, hopeless as to itself, but, through grace, in earnest. Then, this passed - this instructive lesson of the individual energy of hidden faith, ashamed of itself, of its condition, but soon brought out of it and manifested in blessing - it is discovered to this faith which sought Jesus for recovery, and among the Jews, this was answered to see if anything could be found in man for recovery, to act upon; there was nothing - it was dead, whatever thoughts of Jesus might have been in hope before. It was let know to this faith that hope of this sort was gone.

257 Note, Jesus is sometimes found of them that seek Him not, and so with the Gentiles, when those to whom He went as to recover are found past hope. It was an ill-arranged hope, not the faith of the centurion which was Gentile faith not found in Israel, who felt some right in Messiah, but had none for she was dead. Jairus says, "Come and lay thy hands upon her." This was desire indeed, but feeble because it expected something, as having some claim; he was a ruler of the synagogue. And such must for the centurion to bring Christ to heal his servant. Satan soon sends in, on this ground of unbelief, the sentence of hopelessness, "Why yet troublest thou the teacher?" All savoured of Israel, and the world, and its worldly state. How different the centurion! "Thy daughter is dead." Here the Lord steps in at once, and sustains the feeble but faithful faith of the poor ruler, "Fear not; only believe." Thus the need having once fixed on Jesus, raises the character of the faith higher. Jesus must come in in resurrection or not at all now, but He ministers in grace against the machinations of the enemy suggesting it was too late. And then, for it was as yet no public testimony, one may almost say against, or at least closingly to the nation, but confirming the faith of those who leaned on Him, and who were to be witnesses, taking the three Apostles (who afterwards seemed to be pillars) and putting the rest out, He raised her by His word, and taking care for her life, as well as giving it, commanded to give her meat. The calm exercise of saving power in the midst of, or shutting out this lamenting and hopeless unbelief. Thus will His power be shown in the resurrection of the Remnant of that people whom He in vain sought alive. It was pure power, without any help in her, yet ministered to and answered that Gentile faith which had loved her and sought her restoration to health (such we find in Lazarus, such we find, even such we find in Jesus Himself in His resurrection).

258  - 28-34. Nothing could be more beautifully touching than the artless simplicity and thorough confidence as to Him, and humility as to herself, of this poor woman, and the Lord's instant and necessary recognition of the least act of faith. Let the crowd be ever so great, His occupation ever so, to us, absorbing (for He was above all things) or the sorrowful pressure upon His spirit of the circumstances and state of them, He loved the Jewish people. He was alone, but He entered into all things.

- 36. What gracious haste to intercept the effect of the word from sinking the ruler's heart in unbelief. See chapter 9.