November 9, 2003


Mark tells us Jesus "came through the midst of the region of Decapolis to the Sea of Galilee. Then they brought to Him one who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech, and they begged Him to put His hand on him. And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers in his ears, and He spat and touched his tongue. Then, looking up to heaven, He sighed, and said to him, 'Ephphatha,' that is, 'Be opened.' Immediately his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly. Then He commanded them that they should tell no one; but the more He commanded them, the more widely they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, 'He has done all things well. He makes both the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.'" (Mark 7:31-37).

Scholar William Barclay calls attention to the fact that the oldest manuscripts tell us that Jesus, on His way "from Tyre, in the north, to Galilee in the south" began His journey by going first to Sidon, due north of Tyre. This is perhaps an indication that Jesus was not hurrying to return to Galilee. In fact, Barclay suggests this preaching journey may have taken as much as eight months. A.T. Robertson calls attention to another fact: "Observe how carefully He keeps away from the territory ruled by Herod Antipas. The tetrarch Philip, who governed the districts east of the Lake of Galilee and of the upper Jordan, was a better man than Antipas, and moreover had no cause to feel uneasy about Jesus." So these suggestions may help us understand why Jesus took the route He took. But why did He use the strange manner He did in healing the deaf mute? Scholars usually suggest that Jesus' actions may have been meant largely to communicate with the man what was about to happen. (1) Jesus led the man away from the crowd so there would be no distractions. (2) He put His fingers in the man's ears to indicate to him that He was about to restore His hearing. (3) He touched the man's tongue to indicate that He was about to correct the man's speech impediment. (4) He looked up to Heaven to indicate the source of the healing, and (5) He spoke one word in the Hebrew (Aramaic) language which the deaf man could probably understand by lip-reading. Then He healed him.

After healing the man, Jesus did something else we may think of as strange -- He commanded those who were present not to tell anyone about the miracle. They immediately proceeded to ignore that command. The command, and perhaps even the curculios route Jesus took from Tyre to Galilee, was meant to delay direct confrontation with Jesus' enemies. That confrontation must not take place until the time was right for Him to lay down His life as a sacrifice for our sins.

--Clarence R. Johnson


Materialism is consuming God's people.

Husbands and wives have no time or energy left to develop love and enjoy companionship. They are too busy making money to buy things. They exhaust themselves caring for their things. Whatever time and energy is left is monopolized enjoying their things. Many "live together alone" - in the midst of a growing collection of things. What happened to an evening spent talking together and enjoying one another's company?.. maybe a simple walk... a pleasant drive (do you remember just driving around with that girl you loved..?). Have we been duped into thinking we must have things to make us happy? People have more things than they've ever had, but less love, joy, happiness. And then we are scammed into thinking if we had but more things it would solve the problem. It doesn't require another man or woman - materialism is quite adept at driving the wedge that separates husbands and wives. Must we let it continue?

Parents have no time to read to their children. No time to listen to their stories. No time to spend the evening with them. Both parents and children are too busy with things. There are TVs, computers, houses, yards, automobiles. And, of course, they must make more to give the children more things. Is the measure of good parenthood how many good things we can give our children? Your children need you - your love, your care, your wisdom, your example. Materialism has kidnapped parents! And by flooding our children with things to keep them busy (so they won't get in our way), we have let materialism kidnap our children!

Often in churches there are no "older women" to "train the younger women." They've been too busy working so the family could have more things. There was no time as they grew older for study, prayer, and gaining experience in serving others. Elders? Yes, there are older men. But where are those men among the older who have devoted themselves to studying, growing, teaching; training their families, and standing on the battle line so that they are now equipped in their mature years to serve God's people as spiritual leaders? They've learned how to fish, hunt, and play golf; and they have things to prove it - fishing rods, guns, and golf clubs. Their lives have been devoted - and sometimes at their insistence, their wives' lives - to accumulating things. Who is visiting the sick, calling on those who are falling away, and seeking the lost? Who has time? After all, things take time.. to buy, to maintain. No wonder so little fruit is being born. Materialism is "choking the word." The devil will gladly help us get things in exchange for spiritual growth and service.

Yes, the "world" pursues "these things". And with them these things are the measure of "the good life." But, we are not of the world. We should know better. We ought not be deceived as they are. We know of higher goals - that there is "more" to life than possessions. He has promised us the kingdom! It is the greatest treasure. "O men of little faith..." - is he talking to us?

--Steve Fontenot, Bible Comment #29


"I find in him no fault at all" (John 18:38). So said Pilate, before whose judgment seat Jesus stood. Pilate had found Jesus not guilty; but according to the premillennial theory now most popular, Pilate was wrong in his judgment, and Jesus was guilty as charged.

The crime Jesus had been charged with was sedition. He had been accused of seeking to be a king in competition against Caesar (Lk. 23:1-3). If that had been His intention, Jesus would have been guilty of a grave violation of Roman law. But according to today's most prevalent brand of premillennialism, that is exactly what Jesus had intended to do.

This theory says that Jesus came to establish an earthly, political kingdom - a Jewish kingdom that would overthrow Rome and rule the world - but that He failed because of the Jews' rejection of Him. According to this theory, therefore, Jesus was guilty of sedition against Rome.

Pilate, however, did not judge Him to be guilty. Why not? Simply because Jesus explained to him the nature of His kingdom. He told Pilate that His kingdom is not of the world. If it were, His servants would have fought to establish it, for carnal fighting is required to set up earthly kingdoms. Jesus proceeded to explain that His kingdom is based on truth. All who submit to His truth are citizens of His kingdom, as He rules in their hearts (John 18:36-38).

On an earlier occasion Jesus had explained the nature of His kingdom to some Jews who had asked about the coming of God's kingdom. He had told them, "The kingdom of God is within you" (Lk. 17:21). The kingdom of Christ is a spiritual kingdom which exists as He rules in the hearts of men by His truth.

Pilate understood from Jesus' explanation that Jesus' aim was not to set up an earthly, political kingdom. His verdict: "I find in him no fault." If Pilate had determined that Jesus was seeking to establish a political kingdom, he would have declared Jesus to be guilty of sedition.

The point is clear: Jesus was charged with attempting to establish an earthly, political kingdom, and Pilate found Him not guilty. What a shame that an ungodly Roman governor was able to see what multitudes of premillennialists fail to see!

--Johnny Stringer, Guardian of Truth, 2/19/87


Three monkeys sat in a coconut tree, 
Discussing things that are said to be;
Said one to the others, "Now listen you two, 
There's a certain rumor that can't be true:
That man descended from our noble race,
The very idea is a big disgrace! 
"No monkey ever deserted his wife, 
Starved her babies, and ruined her life;
And you've never known a mother monk, 
To leave her babies with others to bunk,
Or pass them on from one to the other, 
Till they scarcely know who is their mother.
"And another thing you'll never see,
A monk build a fence round a coconut tree,
And let the coconuts go to waste,
Forbidding all other monks to taste;
Why, if I put a fence around a tree, 
Starvation will force you to steal from me!
"Here's another thing a monk won't do: 
Go out at night and get in a stew,
Or use a gun, a club or a knife, 
To take some other dumb monkey's life!
Yes, man descended, the ornery cuss, 
but, brother, he didn't descend from us!"

--author unknown



Nov. 7-9, 2003

Piscataway, NJ

Jesse Flowers

Nov. 10-14, 2003

Annandale, VA

Various Speakers

Nov. 21-23, 2003

Bethlehem, PA

Doug Focht


Clarence R. Johnson
Phone: (717) 361-6212

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