The All-Sufficiency of the Son of God

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (Mark 1:1).

What Jesus does flows from who He is, and who He is is clearly taught in every part of Scripture. This Gospel of Mark is the last of the Gospels in which we would look for the fact of His Deity; nevertheless it is here, and on the first page of it, that we may know who it is that has stooped to be the Servant of both God and man, for it is thus that Mark speaks of Him.

First we must hear the voice of the prophet who spoke of John as the forerunner of the Lord, for if He came as the Shepherd of Israel He must come in by the door, and the door was the appointed way of entrance, the way foretold in the Old Testament Scriptures by the prophets inspired of God. Next that same forerunner proclaims Him as the One who in His sovereign right and power should baptize His people with the Holy Ghost. He must be God who does that; the Baptist, a great man, could baptize them with water; that is, he could bring them into the place of death, which was their desert and God's judgment, but he could take them no further; but He who followed after John would bring them into the sphere and life and give them the power that belonged to that sphere which is God's prerogative alone. Then from the most excellent glory the Father's voice salutes Him, saying, "Thou art My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." And finally, He calls men from their occupations and their homes, putting His claim upon them before that of father, mother, wife and children; and who has a right to do that but God? We shall miss the beauty of this Gospel if we miss these testimonies to the glorious Person of our Lord, but if we realize what they mean, then we shall not wonder at the power of His hand and His word, but we shall wonder at the grace and tenderness of His heart; we shall wonder and worship.

There are three spheres in which the Lord will exercise His power and grace if we will make room for Him to do it.

They are:
The church sphere;
The domestic sphere; and
The sphere of the world's need.

Every intelligent and conscientious Christian must feel how great is the need in all these spheres and those who feel the need the most will be most desirous of seeing it met. But how? is the question. May these incidents yield us some help as to this, for they illustrate for us the all-sufficiency of our Lord in these spheres.

The Church Sphere

"And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the Sabbath day He entered into the synagogue, and taught. And they were astonished at His doctrine: for He taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes. And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out" (Mark 1:21-23).

We are not surprised to find that the Lord's service in this Book of service began in the inner sphere of God's interests — in what people would call the religious sphere — but we are surprised to find in that circle an emissary of the devil, an unclean spirit. We might expect to find the unclean spirit in the theatre or the picture house, or moving in business and political circles; but in the synagogue! in the church! Surely not. Yes, there was no doubt about it, the unclean spirit was in the synagogue, and it had a voice there, it cried out against the presence of Jesus there. Were the rulers of that synagogue ashamed of the presence of this unclean spirit? We do not know. They may have endeavoured to cast it out or to bind it into some semblance of decency by chains and fetters, as the Gadarenes had done with the man whose name was Legion. If so their efforts had been in vain, the foul spirit was there when Jesus entered the place.

How good it is for us to learn that the power of evil was compelled to own that Jesus was the Holy One of God and fly before His rebuke. The people were amazed; they had settled down, evidently, to the state of things and hoped for nothing better, when suddenly there had appeared in their midst One who with authority could command even the unclean spirits and they obeyed Him. The incident is recorded for our learning. Are we prepared for the lesson?

Happy is that assembly of saints — and saints is the name given to all the children of God — that gives to the Lord a free and unconditional entrance into their midst, for wherever a door is opened to Him there He will surely enter. But let none suppose that they have the presence of the Lord because they profess to have it. He was outside the church of the Laodiceans (Rev. 3:14-23), chiefly because of the spiritual pride that was there. He knows the proud afar off, and does not draw near to them or countenance their pretensions in anywise, but He looks to and comes to those who are of a contrite spirit and tremble at His word.

I suppose that few words of the Lord have yielded more comfort and encouragement to His saints than those recorded in Matthew 18:20, "For where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them." Yet those who have taken up these words in faith, and desire only to keep the Lord's word and not deny His Name, are not immune from the attacks of the devil. The saints at Corinth were gathered in the Name of the Lord, yet it would appear that evil spirits had stolen into that assembly and were just as opposed to the authority of the Lord as was the unclean spirit in the synagogue at Capernaum. Is it not possible that spiritual pride and sectarian strife and evil speaking and bitterness of feeling and other works of the flesh that so often mar the peace of the saints and divide them one from the other and challenge the authority of the Lord in His own circle, are the result of the presence of evil spirits, agents of Satan, sent forth by him to do his fell work in opposition to the Lord and His work? We believe it is so, for the flesh is pliable material in his deft hands. And how often have good and zealous men endeavoured to put things right that were wrong and made confusion worse confounded by their efforts, for every effort that is not directed by the Lord must be of the flesh, and the effort of flesh to correct flesh cannot produce true spiritual results.

Our Scripture would teach us that the Lord is not powerless as we are, but that He has authority before which every other power must yield. What wonderful results we should see if this were recognized by faith and if recognizing it we would condemn our own importance and give Him room to work! He is more interested in His own circle of interests than the most devoted servant of His could be; He is the Head of His body and cares for all His members; He is the Lord of His saints and servants, but He is also Lord of all; He has been set over every principality and power and with authority He can command them and they must obey Him. We need a renewed sense of His greatness, power and authority, as well as of His love and grace. We need to look to Him who is the Head and Centre of His saints and humble ourselves before Him continually that He may speak the word that the works of Satan be undone, the flesh judged, His saints blest and His work prospered.

The Domestic Sphere

"And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. But Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell Him of her. And He came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered to them" (Mark 1:29-31).

There are some who would confine the Lord to the Sunday services and when they are done they would lock the door of their place of worship, as they call it, and would lock Him inside and live the rest of the week without any reference to Him. But I venture to say that if all they know about the Lord is confined to one day a week they don't know Him at all, and further, those who really know Him would say that if they could only know Him in the Sunday services He would be of little more value to them than are the gods of the heathen to their devotees. They need Him every day. The Lord won't be confined to one day a week, or to what we might term the religious side in our lives. He loves us too well for that and He delights to be with us in our homes and to mingle with us in the joys and sorrows of our everyday life. I proclaim an everyday Saviour, a domestic Saviour, who understands domestic difficulties and knows how to meet them by His own power and grace.

"Forthwith He went into the house of Simon" — straight from the synagogue into the house. I am sure that Simon asked Him to go with him, but I am equally sure that He made Simon feel that it was the one thing that He desired to do. And there was trouble in Simon's house, his wife's mother lay sick of a fever and the whole house was disordered. What was it that had brought that fever on her? Let us read something into the story that cannot be out of place and may the lesson help us all. A few days before, Simon had given up a lucrative calling. He had abandoned boat and nets and fishes to follow the Lord, and Simon's wife's mother saw very plainly that the Lord had nothing, not even a home; He was a poor man without a place to lay His head, and if Simon followed Him, would he not be homeless, too? It seemed a foolish thing that Simon had done, and his mother-in-law, practical body that she was, began to wonder and to worry about her daughter. And Simon was so headstrong a man, it was no use talking to him. The mother-in-law would have to shoulder the whole burden, so she supposed, and see that her daughter and the children did not want. And so she set to planning through sleepless nights, and the more she planned the more anxious she became, and anxiety deepened into continual worry until she lay fevered, sick and helpless. It was her love for those she dearly loved that brought it all about, and she did not understand that the more she worried about them the less she was able to help them.

We are going to travel from Simon's house to yours and see if the story does not touch your heart. You have worried and planned about things and you have been sure that everything was going wrong in your home life, and the more you have considered your difficulties the more they have seemed to be in a hopeless tangle, until you are indeed sick of a fever and you are adding by your fevered spirit to the difficulties that you have wanted to solve and the burdens that you have longed to lift. It will be well for you to face the question, not of these difficulties first, but of your own condition, and the worried and perplexed state of your own heart. But let us return to Simon's house. The Lord made Himself at home there, and they, the household, became so conscious of His sympathetic interest in them, that they tell Him of the sick woman. It is wonderful how the Lord invites our confidences if we let Him into our homes and lives. I heard of someone the other day who had burdens, personal and otherwise, and who longed for someone to whom he could tell them, but knew no one whom he could trust. Simon's family did not feel like that about Jesus, nor need we. Mark's laconic style makes it all very vivid. "Anon they tell Him of her. And He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up." He passed at once into that inner chamber and the moanings of the sick woman ceased as He took her hand, her pulse steadied, her temperature slid down to normal, she was instantly calmed. One touch of that sympathetic but almighty hand changed everything Contact with Jesus assuaged the fever, and He lifted her up. He did not leave her lying in a state of helplessness, and there was no period of convalescence. She did not need to know Him a long time before she could trust Him wholly about her daughter and the family. His touch, His look, were enough, she had nothing to fear if He was near, and she stands up — the fever gone, and ministers to them.

I know the sort of woman she was, nothing gave her greater pleasure than to be serving those whom she loved, but the fever had stricken her down, she could do nothing to help them and had become a burden to those she would have served. But now she is free again, her heart can express itself in her activities, she can resume her normal life and serve the household that she loved, but she must have done it as she never did it before. Her experience of her own weakness in the fever and the strength that Jesus had imparted to her by His touch had made her wholly new in the way she served. His touch had transmuted the poor metal of her love into calm, unselfish, unostentatious service.

Again let us travel from Simon's house to yours, and instead of thinking of his mother-in-law, think of you. It is the contact with Jesus you need, His touch — "I will give you rest," He says, "Ye shall find rest to your souls." How wonderful it will be for you when you do find this rest! What a priceless treasure it is! Then will it be said of you, "In quietness and confidence shall be your strength." Then will you be a help and not a hindrance in your home, a glad servant of others' need, and the service you render will be the service of love, love first to the Lord and then to others.

Now let us bring to the Lord our burdens and cares. Our homes may be His kingdom. The world's door is a closed door, bolted and barred against Him, but we may open the doors of our homes to Him and constrain Him to come in, and when in answer to our request He becomes our guest we may tell Him all. There is no detail too small for His grace and no trouble too great for His power. It makes a difference when the father and mother bend their knees in secret before Him and it increases the blessing when the family is drawn into the daily habit of prayer. If He is asked and allowed to handle things, peace and order and contentment will be the result, and the humblest home will be transformed into a royal dwelling if the Lord is there.

The Circle of the World's Need

"And at even, when the sun did set, they brought to Him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. And all the city was gathered together at the door. And He healed many that were sick of diverse diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew Him" (Mark 1:32-34).

The news had spread that things had been put right in the synagogue. It may be that the condition of things there had been a scandal in the town and many who would have attended it to hear the Word of God read on the Sabbath days had stayed away because of it and interest in God's things had almost died out. But a new power had appeared, an irresistible authority, and one word had delivered that congregation from the blight that rested upon it. It was surely an event to be talked about, and those who had been fortunate enough to be at that morning service talked to the town. Then the One who was great enough to deliver the synagogue from the power of Satan was not too great to go into the house of a fisherman. He was surely as gracious as He was great, and He had interested Himself in the trouble there, so that not only the synagogue but the house of His disciple had been transformed. It is not difficult to imagine how Peter and Andrew and John and James would spread the story of the afternoon's work and of the healing power of Jesus and of the gracious way in which He used it. And those who perhaps would have been unmoved by the work of the morning, became greatly interested in the work of the afternoon. The effect of it was a great stirring in the town, so that when the sun was set there were brought from every quarter of it the sick and the devil-possessed. What a sight that must have been! Was it possible that there was so much sorrow and pain and need in that one town? Only Jesus in all that multitude had known it all, and He knowing it all was able to meet it all. But who would have believed this? We can understand how anxiously Simon would look out from his doorway at the thronging crowd eager to be healed. Had his report of things brought all this need together? Suppose this multitude had to return to their homes disappointed? But the Lord was at his side saying, "Fear not, Simon, only believe." And they passed by that door at which the Lord stood, and His touch, His word, His look of compassion healed them all.

"Oh with what diverse pains they met,
Oh with what joy they went away."

The Lord's power was equal to the deep need of the town. And He is the same today, only now His power is put forth to heal soul-sickness and to deliver men from the yoke of sin and Satan.

Vast as the world's need is, He is able to meet it. Oh that men realized this. But how often they look upon the gospel message as an idle tale because of the low condition of the church and the discontent in the homes of Christians. The evening's work on that memorable day flowed out of the morning's and afternoon's work, and if we are to rejoice again in the salvation of souls we must first secure the presence and blessing of the Lord in the inner circle of God's interests with which we have to do, and in our domestic and individual lives. Thank God we can speak of the all-sufficiency of Jesus our Lord. There is no need too great for His grace and power. We may preach the glad tidings to all, even to the very worst and most remote from God, but we shall not do it effectually unless we can say, "He has done for us all that we are telling you He can do for you. See how He has blest us and come to Him that He may bless you also."