I was Blind, But Now I See

This sermon can be watched or listened to at www.templebaptistchurch.ca!

I have to confess something. It is rather embarrassing, especially as a pastor who goes and visits people in the hospital at their most desperate times. I get very squirmish when it comes to anything to do with people’s eyes. I think I would prefer being branded with hot coals than get eye drops. If somebody has an eye problem, I have a hard time looking at them. My eyes start to water and I just want to run away. So I consider it a great privilege to visit you in the hospital. If you are having open heart surgery or a sucking chest wound and need me to be there to pray for you, I’m your guy. But if you have your cataracts replaced, one of our other Elders would be happy to visit you. Here is the thing: Problems with your eyes affect what everybody else sees and experiences!

Let me give you an example, but in order to do so I need a volunteer today. Come on up here! Please put this blindfold on. How many fingers am I holding up? Can you see? No! Okay, so I have under this cloth something for you. These are the keys to my van. Now, all you need to do is find some people who are willing to drive with you as you remain blindfolded and you can take my van for a spin in the parking lot. Anybody willing to go with this blind man for a drive? No takers! Okay, how about if I asked if anybody was hungry? Okay, I have an apple here. You just have come up and our blind leader will cut it up for you. You just have to hold it. Wow! I guess none of you are really hungry. The point is summarized in a phrase that you might be familiar with and is a major problem in our world: “The blind are leading the _________.” (To the volunteer: You can now go sit down! Let’s give this person a clap for being my volunteer.)

The blind leading the blind! We see this truth (pardon the pun) in a story found in the Bible, particularly in the Gospel of John 9. It is the story of a blind man Jesus encounters. Jesus really cares for blind people as we will find out. Let’s read this story in John 9! Read John 9!

Have you ever had to take an eye test? You know where they make you read all these letters starting with the largest fonts at the top and then the letters get smaller and smaller with each line as you go down the page. What you are hoping for is 20/20 vision. Well, today I want you to take a spiritual eye test. This will help you know what your vision is in light of what is of utmost importance. It is really important because problems with your eyes affect what everybody else sees and experiences. This is especially true with what you see spiritually. As Paul Tripp has said, “Spiritual blindness is worse than physical blindness because you are unaware of your blindness.”[1] Think about that! If you are blind spiritually and leading people (it could be your team at work or at play; it could be your friends; it could be your spouse or God forbid your children), then you are leading them only into greater darkness. That is why this spiritual eye test is so important.

So what are you focused on? To be considered as having 20/20 vision on Snellen’s eye chart, you have to be able to accurately read 9 lines of letters. The test for your spiritual vision is not as long. In fact, there are only four questions I want you to answer. Are you focused on other’s sins? Are you focused on always needing explanations? Are you focused on the rules? And are you focused on other’s opinions?

The first question was what the disciples asked in verse 2, “And His disciples asked Him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?’” Jesus’ disciples were religious people. One thing religious people are usually pretty good at is seeing other’s sins. We religious people are experts at sniffing out other people’s sins. We care about right and wrong. But to be fair, so does everybody else. You may not even be a person of faith and are listening today, and yet you are quick to see when a wrong has been committed. Do you know what we call such people who see other’s sins and wrongs? A judge! However, the disciples went beyond judging, they were prejudging. They were prejudice. They thought, like “some Jews in that day did, that congenitally blind people sinned in the womb.”[2] The Jews read and formed a theology from Psalm 58:3 that says, “The wicked are estranged from the womb; these who speak lies go astray from birth.” Now, some of you might think that is crazy. How could a little baby sin while it is still in utero? Here is the truth. Even the esteemed King David confessed in Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity and in sin my mother conceived me.” We are born with what theologians call original sin. It explains why a little baby, as cute as they are, is selfish and wants to be “a little self-appointed sovereign” as Paul Tripp calls them. And then we grow-up as self-appointed sovereigns and we love to see blame for a problem. Actually, this is one of my biggest problems in my family. I love to assign blame and responsibility for a problem so we can evaluate it and never do it again. Anybody else do that? I guess it is just me!

But do you ever think when you see somebody homeless or sick and wonder what he or she did to deserve that? That’s called prejudice! And that is what the disciples did with the man born blind! Of course, we should call sin “sin” when we see it! That is not what I’m talking about. I am talking about getting people out of trouble rather than into trouble. You might even save their life if they are caught in sin. (c.f. James 5:19-20) However, too often we are looking at other’s sins and not our own! We have 2 X 4 vision. That is why Jesus commanded in Matthew 7:5, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” As Paul Tripp reminds us, “Not only does sin blind, but as sinners, we participate in our own blindness.”[3] It would be like me walking around with 2 X 4 coming out of my eye complaining about a little stain on your outfit. This is why we must take the 2 X 4 out of our own eyes.

Taking the 2 X 4 or log out of our own eye will not only help us see better ourselves as well as help others, but most importantly, it will help us see God’s work. This is what Jesus redirects His disciples to gaze upon. John 9:3 records Jesus correcting His disciples’ vision, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Let’s not fail the spiritual eye test anymore with the first question. Are you focused on other’s sins? Sound impossible? How can we not notice the sins of others? Of course, we are going to notice sin around us. However, the only way to pass this first question is by staying focused on what God can do in a person? Can God heal the broken and blind? Is God bigger and His grace greater than our sin? Keep your eyes on God in eager anticipation of what He could do, even with people who have been broken from birth and are in darkness. Jesus goes onto say in verse 5 that He is the light of the world. He actually repeats this self-identification because in John 8:12, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” Having our eyes on Jesus is the only way to see spiritually and to actually live in the light and not see everybody as dark, unlovable and against us.

The second question in the spiritual eye test is are you focused on needing explanations? In the story, we find a second group of people, the man’s neighbours, who fail this spiritual eye test. Verses 8-9 record their musings, “Therefore, the neighbors, and those who previously saw him as a beggar, were saying, ‘Is not this the one who used to sit and beg?’ Others were saying, ‘This is he,’ still others were saying, ‘No, but he is like him.’ He kept saying, ‘I am the one.’” Have you ever met somebody who has doubted who you are or worse that they doubt you have changed from who you once were? That is what these neighbours were doing to the formerly blind man. They didn’t recognize him and more importantly, God’s fresh miracle! Do you know what we call such people? Skeptics! Doubters! If the first group of people were prejudice, making a presumption before they saw it for certain. The second group of people could only see the past. They only have eyes in the back of their head. They have no foresight about what God could do or has done. They live only in the past. They never see a preferred future. They are puddleglums and Eeyore. Nothing good ever happens! Who enjoys being around such skeptics? They fail the spiritual eye test. The remedy for skeptics, or those who focus only on the past, is to hear a fresh testimony of God’s miracle. That is what the man born blind did. He told them his story. How Jesus came to him, spat on the ground, made clay and put it on his eyes and then he washed in the pool of Siloam and was healed.

Why use clay? There are many scholarly opinions as to why, but here are two of the best that also show who Jesus is: 1) JESUS IS THE CREATOR – “God made human beings out of dust of the ground; Jesus in an act of creation, used a little dust to make eyes that were otherwise lacking”[4]; and 2) JESUS IS THE LORD – Pain can lead to obedience. “The man would quickly obey to get the irritant out of his eyes.”[5] What happens when you have something in your eye? You actually and ironically become focused. Your physical vision may be blurry, but your personal vision becomes clear. It becomes your priority to get that irritant out of your eye. Jesus may sometimes irritate our vision so that we will obey Him as Lord. We will stop pursuing our own vision and pursue His.

The third question in the spiritual eye test is are you focused only on the rules? Which group of people in the story was worried about the rules? Answer: The Pharisees! Check out verse 13-16, They brought to the Pharisees the man who was formerly blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath on the day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. 15 Then the Pharisees also were asking him again how he received his sight. And he said to them, “He applied clay to my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Therefore some of the Pharisees were saying, “This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” But others were saying, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And there was a division among them.” The irony is that these are the people who should have been most excited about a man being healed by God. In fact, this is one of the great ironies in the Gospels. Those who should have been most excited about Jesus because they were waiting expectantly for their Messiah weren’t excited and those you would think would want nothing to do with Jesus because they were sinners encountering His holiness actually embraced Him. The Pharisees were definitely the former lot. They should have been captivated by this new believer’s transformation. You see, “Watching a person see Jesus for the first time and discover Him for themselves is like watching a child see the bigness of Disneyland for the very first time. There’s nothing like it to keep your faith energized.”[6] The Pharisees were not energized by the man’s growing faith. They cared more about Jesus healing on the Sabbath than a man finally being able to see again. Why? They cared more about the rules! We could call them “legally blind.” What is scary is that legally blind people often get worse. If you are legally blind, you can become blinder. You see, “The only people who cannot see the light are blind people and those who refuse to look make themselves blind.”[7] We see this truth in verse 18, “The Jews then did not believe it or him, that he had been blind and had received sight.” The Pharisees lived in denial.

What is the treatment for being spiritually legally blind? In other words, how do you stop being a legalist? You see your own sinful heart and you stop using the rules as your report card in the school of life. Instead, you receive Jesus and recognize life is to be only lived by His grace! Sadly, most of the Pharisees, like legalists today, never do! They argue with the man born blind. I love this part of the story because the student actually becomes the teacher. The Pharisees are fuzzy about how the man gained vision, but the formerly blind man only gets a clearer picture of who Jesus is. My favourite line is in verse 27, “He answered them, ‘I told you already and you did not listen; why do you want to hear it again? You do not want to become His disciples too, do you?” What a contrast! The former blind man is seeing clearer and clearer spiritually. In fact, he becomes an evangelist. He does what each of us should do, especially if we are new believers in Christ. He simply says in verse 25, “Whether He (Jesus) is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know that though I was blind, now I see.” If you are a new believer (or a more seasoned believer), we don’t have to have all the answers. We just have to tell how Jesus changed us – we were blind and now we see.

However, this does not mean that everybody will believe us, even those in our own family. This leads us to the last question in the spiritual eye test: are you focused on other’s opinions? Sadly, it’s the man’s own parents who fail the test. They leave him twisting with the deadly Pharisees because they didn’t want to be seen as acknowledging Jesus as the Christ and thereby kicked out of the synagogue (v. 22). The man’s parents were people pleasers and ultimately, selfish. They are more focused on other’s opinions than their own son. Why? Well, you need to understand that the synagogue was not just the place you worshipped, but it was the heart of the community. It is where you went to get a job. It was the place where you fellowshipped. It was the employment office, church, school, coffee shop or bar all rolled into one. To be kicked out was not just losing your status in a club, it would cost you big time financially, socially, relationally and spiritually. Nevertheless, this was the man’s parents. How could they distance themselves from their own son? Maybe they felt the stigma of being considered sinners like the disciples echoed back in verse 2? Maybe they were ashamed of their visually challenged son? Some of you know how that feels. You can relate to Psalm 27:10, like this man, could, “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me up.” Here is Good News for you: Jesus fulfilled that Psalm. He took up the man. All that he had lost, Jesus regained for him. He lost his sight; Jesus restored it. He lost his family, Jesus would give Him a new family – God’s forever family. He lost membership in the synagogue and place to worship, Jesus gave him a reason to worship and a membership in heaven. You see, caring more about Jesus’ opinion than anybody else is the only way to see spiritually.

And how do we know this? It is actually subtle. It goes back to when Jesus asked him to wash in the Pool of Siloam. I struggled to understand why Jesus would send him to wash at Siloam. That was until I was reading Leviticus 15:8 in my devotions this week. Or if the man with the discharge spits on one who is clean, he too shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening.” The Law was that if an unclean man spit on another person, they would be unclean until they were washed. Well, what does this have to do with Jesus? Jesus was perfect and clean and wasn’t discharging fluid … at least not yet! Recall 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Could this command to wash in the Pool of Siloam not only fulfill this one law, but point to a time when Jesus would fulfill all the requirements of the Law by discharging His blood from His head, His hands, His feet and His side, becoming sin for us?

You see, all of us have failed the spiritual eye test and this is why we needed Jesus to heal us to give us sight once again. Jesus’ question to the blind man in verse 35 still stands for us, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” If you do, you can truly say, “I was blind, but now I see!” And not only will you see, but others will see Jesus too! Go tell the world, “I was blind, but now I see!”

[1] Paul Tripp, “Parenting Conference” (New Hope Community Church, March 17, 2017).

[2] D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John – The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991), 362.

[3] Paul Tripp, New Morning Mercies – July 17 (Wheaton: Crossway, 2015).

[4] D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John – The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991), 364.

[5] Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary – Volume 1 (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1989), 324.

[6] Chris Sonksen, When Your Church Feels Stuck (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2017), 80.

[7] Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary – Volume 1 (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1989), 327.


What Attracts People to Christ? What Repels People from Christ?

This sermon can be watched or listened to at www.templebaptistchurch.ca!

What attracts people to following Christ? What repels people from following Christ? I want to address both of these questions. Let’s start with what attracts people to following Christ. Or I could make it more personal, what attracted you to Christ? I believe it was Jesus’ holy and powerful love that attracted you to follow Him. What I mean by this is that Jesus is holy – He is different. He lived among the poor and oppressed. He never hurt anybody. He taught with authority (Mark 1:22). He was wise (Luke 2:52). Those characteristics of Jesus might have caught people’s attention, but what really made people follow Jesus and change the world was that He predicted He was going to be killed by the religious leaders and then rise from the grave three days later (Mark 10:33-34) and it came true. Do you know anybody else who has been able to pull that off? Jesus is holy! He is different! But Jesus was also powerful. You might be different but lots of people are different. You might be different, but if you don’t have much ability or power to change anything, people won’t follow you. As Ajith Fernando says, “ A church that is pure but is powerless is unattractive.”[1] Jesus is powerful! Jesus was able to calm a raging storm, with winds like we saw in Southern Ontario this week, with just two words, “Be still!” (Mark 4:39) He was able to feed 5000 and 4000 people with just a couple of filet-o-fish sandwiches. He was able to heal the blind, the lame, and the sick. He was able to raise people from the dead. He was able to drive demons out of people. He was able to transform the lives of prostitutes and swindlers. Jesus is powerful! And all this power and holiness was driven by Christ’s love demonstrated by Jesus dying on a Cross for you and me. Are you attracted to Jesus’ holy and powerful love because He died for you?

So if Jesus’ holy and powerful love attracts people to following Him, what repels people from following Christ? Jesus’ holy and powerful love! Jesus’ holy and powerful love also repels people from following Him. Recall in Mark 5:1-20 when Jesus went to the region of Gerasenes and confronted a man who ran around naked in a cemetery tormenting the local population because he had many demons inside him! Jesus cast the demons out of the man and the next scene describes the man was sitting clothed and in his right mind. What do the locals do in gratitude towards Jesus for freeing them from their tormentor? Mark 5:17 records, “They began to implore Him to leave their region.” Jesus’ holy and powerful love for the man and for the people of region created two responses. It attracted the man freed from the demons and repelled the majority of the people. Jesus’ holy and powerful love still creates these two responses – it either attracts people to Jesus or repels them from Him? What is Jesus’ holy and powerful love doing in your life – attracting or repelling you?

Now when I say that Jesus’ powerful and holy love repels people from Him, I am not putting any of the blame on Jesus but on the ones rejecting Him. This is exactly like when you try to show love to somebody and they reject you. I am coaching baseball this summer. This week at one of our games, a player made a bad swing and the ball harmlessly went to the pitcher who threw our player easily out at first base. I was coaching first base and as the player approached the base he wouldn’t even acknowledge me. He was so focused on his own failure that he wouldn’t look at me, even though I was praising him for making contact with the ball. He rejected my love, but later apologized on his own accord! Maybe you have had your love rejected this week? I find the truth that Jesus’ holy and powerful love attracts some and repels others particularly helpful in our continuing mission with Jesus and Church. We saw this evidenced this past Thursday when Joe Boot showed us that science cannot determine our values but Christ can. Some embraced this truth and others rejected it. Jesus’ holy and powerful love has always created a response of either attraction or rejection. As John Stott says, “Jesus is alarming to some and appealing to others.”[2] Let’s read in Acts 5:12-16 about how this occurred from the beginning of Jesus’ followers and how you can find encouragement in your mission with Jesus. Read Acts 5:12-16!

Jesus’ holy and powerful love was handed off to His disciples. Acts 5:12 records, “And at the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s portico.” God was using the apostles, the sent ones, to do miracles. I believe God still does miracles through us as sent ones as we witness for Him. Luke, the author of this book, once again emphasizes that the early believers’ unity was on full display in a well-known place. They were all with “one accord” or literally “one mind.” Our unity is our greatest miracle and witness! This is why we must continue to focus on the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ and we will be of one mind. I am not trying to rally you around a vision. I am not trying to rally you around a project. I am not trying to rally you around a campaign to reach the lost. All those will come as we focus on Jesus and He shows us what He wants us to do next.

In the story in Acts 5, we would think that the unity and miracles would have caused people to flock and join the early disciples of Jesus. However, in verse 13 we read, “But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem.” Why wouldn’t they associate with them? Maybe some had heard that these early disciples had already been arrested and warned by the religious leaders not to speak about Jesus? We read of the religious’ leader’s warning in Acts 4:17! You know there are some people who shy away from any sort of trouble, so maybe this is why some dared not to associate with the early followers of Christ. The apostles were considered “troublemakers” by some!

Though I don’t think that is why most of the people didn’t want to associate with the early Church. The immediate context is always the first place we should look for answers to our questions when studying the Bible and in Acts 5:11 we discover, “And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things.” What things were these? Ananias and Sapphira, a husband and wife, were a part of the church. They were even large donors to the church, but they had promised God to give all of the profits from the sale of some land to the church to help those in need. Instead, they held back some for themselves and did not have integrity before God. When confronted with the truth, Ananias and Sapphira both lied, and the immediate consequence was that they died. This is what caused fear both inside and outside of the Church. Such seriousness with sin made people cautious to follow Jesus and join the Church. They respected the Church for having the integrity to deal with a lack of integrity of one it’s members, but they were not ready to put themselves under such scrutiny and accountability.

I suspect that there will be some here who will be cautious about joining Temple. We are committed to having integrity before God and this has caused us to do things like pay off debt, which in just 20 months we have been able to pay down $125,000. Having integrity also caused us to close our beloved Academy. People in our community might respect our decision from a financial standpoint and may even acknowledge that God is doing miracles here with providing money, seeing lives changed from darkness to light, but they may not join us. I believe some of you are waiting and seeing what will happen. You’re welcome here, however, I would encourage you not to stay in that holding pattern. God wants you to land your plane and join Him on Jesus’ mission. Temple will be a place where Jesus’ holy and powerful love will be displayed and this will require great integrity and accountability. So why would you want to be a part of anything less? You want to discover more about Temple? Come to the Explore Temple Membership Class today at 2 PM.

Well, back in the story in Acts 5, it records that people got over their fear and followed Christ. Verse 14 describes, “And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number.” I think Ananias and Sapphira’s death was not so much of a deterrent to join the church as much as it was an advance of the church. People knew that Jesus was worth following if He cared even about the private commitments one made in their hearts. This is my appeal to you as well. I can’t think of anything more important than following Christ, getting baptized and joining the Church. We don’t promise you greater entertainment than you can find out in the world. We don’t promise you riches! We don’t promise you an easy life! We promise you the truth found in Jesus Christ! Are you becoming attracted to Jesus’ holy and powerful love?

If so, you are going to see some things that will blow your mind. This is what happened in Jerusalem nearly two thousand years ago. Luke writes in Acts 5:15-16, “to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on any of them. And also the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were being healed.” This seems crazy! But is it? First, if Jesus, the Son of God, came walking by, could He heal with just His shadow falling upon somebody? I believe He could! In fact, Luke had already hinted at this when he recorded in his first book the prophecy of Zacharias regarding Jesus in Luke 1:77-79, “To give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” The Shadow of the Almighty can heal!

Second, Jesus gave Peter and his followers His Spirit, the Holy Spirit which would enable them to do the miracles that Jesus Himself could have done. Jesus empowers His people through the Holy Spirit. Third, Jesus promised His disciples that they would do greater miracles than Him. John 14:12 records Jesus’ promise, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” Jesus had healed a sick man carried to him on a pallet as we read in Mark 2:1-12, but there were many of the sick on pallets being carried to Jesus’ disciples. Greater works were being done by the disciples. Lest you think that this makes Jesus’ disciples more powerful than Christ. No, it is Jesus who through the Holy Spirit can empower His Church to have a greater effect through us as His witnesses and messengers. I think that is the principle here that we should pursue. Jesus’ holy and powerful love makes the Church an unstoppable force. Like a starfish which doesn’t die when cut in two, but instead multiplies, Christ when killed, rose from the grave and then ascended to heaven so that the His Spirit would “multiply” in each us making us unstoppable against the kingdom of darkness. This is not about praying for such power that our shadows heal people. This is not about casting out demons or making huge signs for Christ. This is about Jesus who wants to make us so pure and powerful that the spread of His message and Kingdom continues.

Does this mean that people will not reject Jesus and His Church anymore? No, miracles don’t seal the deal of salvation. Miracles are only a means to show Christ’s holy and powerful love, which is why we shouldn’t pursue miracles in themselves. In fact, the many people have witnessed a miracle of God and still rejected Him. Their rejection has nothing to do with a lack of proof but with a lack of profession. It wasn’t that they couldn’t attest the miracle, they just wouldn’t acknowledge Jesus as the source of the miracle and more importantly, their Saviour. Biblical miracles for the most part were not hidden. As Warren Wiersbe states, “Most of the miracles in the Bible were out in the open for everybody to see, and it would not be difficult to prove them in a court of law.”[3] And yet, despite these miracles being proven beyond a literal shadow of a doubt, people still rejected Christ.

Ajith Fernando writes something very profound, “Our identification with people’s needs brings us close to them, but our holiness separates us from them.”[4] How can we be loving and holy at the same time? This is the push and pull of witnessing; the attraction and repulsion of the Gospel. Why the Gospel is foolish to those who are perishing and for us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18). You see, I have found that the thing that people accuse Jesus of not having – power – is what He uses to show His love. After the tornado came this week to Angus, Ontario, I heard one news reporter say, “The residents of Angus can thank their lucky stars.” Lucky stars had nothing to do with it. The stars were thousands of light years away. But God was here! God protected those people from such power with a greater power of love for them. He protected you and me. Sure, some houses were damaged but Jesus’ power was once again shown holy and loving. It was another miracle of Christ. Though the greatest example of Jesus holy and powerful love was when Jesus didn’t exercise His power to come down from the Cross despite people’s cajoling Him to do so. Instead, He showed His greatest power by staying pinned to a Cross and thus saving His enemies, you and me.

Beloved, may we follow the same path as Jesus. Will we come close enough to powerfully love people, yet live lives that are holy different? I heard Michael Frost recently say, “If you live exactly like your neighbours, taking the same vacations, renovating the same kitchens and spending your money on the same things they do, is your life going to be intriguing enough to them that they want Christ?”[5] Maybe our lives need to be more holy and powerful; driven by the love of Christ? Instead of spending that money on the great vacation, how can that time away be for helping others – making miracles for the poor, and the oppressed? How can you infuse more doctrine into your families’ lives than Disney? How can you become that lawyer, doctor, nurse, tradesperson, not just to make lots of money, but to extend Christ’s kingdom?

I believe if we examine our own lives we will see that how we have been at time attracted to Christ and then at other times our sin has repulsed us from Christ. Imagine though what would happen if we lived such pure and powerful lives that attraction to Christ won the day. We can as we let the Holy Spirit take over!

And it starts with holiness. Purity comes before power! Yesterday our leaders and their spouses went for a prayer walk around our property seeking the Lord for what He wants done next here. He showed me that we first need to be pure before we can be used powerfully by Him! So Temple, let’s pursue Jesus’ holiness and trust Him for His power to do the miracles and transforms lives in Cambridge and around the world.

[1] Ajith Fernando, The NIV Application Commentary on Acts (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), 214.

[2] John R.W. Stott, The Message of Acts (Downers Grove: Inter-varsity Press, 1990), 113.

[3] Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary – Volume 1 (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1989), 423.

[4] Fernando, 214.

[5] Michael Frost, “Rethinking Witness” 2014 EXPONENTIAL CONFERENCE, April 30, 2014.

Are You Making the Most of Every Opportunity for Christ?

This sermon can be watched or listened to at www.templebaptistchurch.ca!

Are you taking opportunities to explain what God is doing? This week was another wild one for me. Following Jesus is the most amazing adventure you could have. It started off last weekend with a man asking about our service times and it led to an interesting discussion about spirituality. Monday was full of meetings with people. Tuesday was more meetings with people and then Linda Kenyon, our Office Administrator tapped on my door late on Tuesday afternoon and gave me a message that the Waterloo Record newspaper was calling and had heard rumors that our Academy was closing. I had been through this before last summer and knew that we needed to prepare a press release so our Staff and some key leaders prepared one. As an aside, about a decade ago I was asked to organize a rally about traditional marriage and learned how to write a press release. I remember thinking that I’ll never have to do that again. It is interesting how God allows you to experience something in one situation and will often cause you draw from that experience for another situation He has planned.

I was then interviewed by a reporter from The Waterloo Record and had a connection with him since he was a pastor’s kid who grew up in a United Church. I got to share with him that God on rare occasion says “no” and has a better plan. I got the opportunity to tell him how this was most evident when God the Father said “no” to His own Son in the Garden of Gethsemane and I am really glad that He did because it meant salvation for us. The next morning as I preparing for Sunday morning’s sermon, I got a call from the Cambridge Times and had another interview and opportunity to talk about God’s answer. Finally, CTV news called me on Thursday morning and wanted to capture our story on video. My hope and prayer is that whether big or small I will make the most of every opportunity God puts in my path to bring Him glory.

This is what Peter did in Acts 3:11-26! A man who had been lame since birth was begging at the gate of the Temple in Jerusalem and he asked Peter and John for some money. Peter and John didn’t have any money but gave the man something that was far better. Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: in the Name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene – walk!” (Acts 3:6) The man immediately was able to walk and he jumped up for joy praising God! Of course, everybody took note because the man was well-known. You would see him every time you went to the Temple. Now, instead of lying on the ground, he is leaping for joy. Obviously this drew a crowd! Let’s read in Acts 3:11-26 what happens next! Reads Acts 3:11-26!

You can just imagine the former lame man standing between Peter and John with his arms wrapped on each side. People are snapping photos to take home to their friends who would know of the lame man as well. This was a genuine miracle and everybody knew it. Later on Acts 4:16, even the religious leaders cannot deny that this “noteworthy miracle occurred.” But I love how Peter makes the most of the opportunity for Christ. He wants to explain the miracle behind the miracle. The healing of the lame man was the tip of the iceberg. Peter sees all the people coming and starts to explain what happened. He in effect was an interpreter to people who were in awe. I believe this is our role as witnesses of Jesus. We should attempt to interpret what God has done.

For example, I heard Dr. Del Tackett explain the miracle of the chicken egg.[1] Did you know that there are over 10,000 pores in an eggshell? Those pores or holes allow the chick to breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide through these membranes. You probably have seen the membrane in between the shell and the yoke in a hard-boiled egg. The egg also has a pocket of air, actually 6 hours worth so usually around the 19th day of being in an egg, the chick breaths from this pocket of air while the chick uses it’s egg tooth to poke through the membrane and then the shell to hatch. Isn’t that amazing? I think it is our role to interpret the intricacy and beauty of nature to others. We are interpreters of God’s work! Job 12:7-8 says, “’Ask the animals, and they will teach you’, says Job, ‘and the birds of the air, and they will teach you.” There are miracles all around us if we have eyes and ears to see and hear them. We need to explain God’s work to others! Frankly, if Christians would spend more time explaining God’s miracles in creation and in everyday life, we might not be known for the televangelists who purport doing all these miracles only trying to make a name for themselves. I like what D.A. Carson reminds us, “We do not have evidence of Jesus going somewhere specifically to hold a healing service.”[2] Healing services should not be what we are known for!

Nevertheless, I believe healings and miracles happen all the time if we have eyes to see! God heals people physically, spiritually, emotionally and relationally all the time. I think the right perspective is what Ajith Fernando warns, “Unfortunately, today we have the situation of a sign-mania on the part of some Christians and a sign-phobia on the part of others.”[3] To keep from becoming sign-maniacs or signaphobes, let focus on Jesus the Miracle-maker rather than the miracles. Let’s make a name for Jesus and not ourselves.

Peter didn’t try to make a name for himself! He states, “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk?” (Acts 3:12) Peter seizes the opportunity to explain God’s work while at the same time deflecting any glory away from himself and John. It wasn’t about how powerful or spiritual they were. What contrast to the so-called famous “holy men” who act so far above us! There are “pastors” who are such on a pedestal that they have a security detail to keep people away from them. Jesus, as the Good Shepherd, always rebuked His disciples or religious leaders who kept His sheep away from Him. Jesus was high touch and we need to appropriately be like Him.

How do we make the most of every opportunity for Christ? I think there are three ways we see in this text that we can explain God’s work to others: 1) Explain God’s work historically; 2) Explain God’s work personally; and 3) Explain God’s work practically. Peter started with explaining God’s work historically. Notice in verse 13 that Peter grounds the gospel in the historic belief of the God of the patriarchs of Israel, “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus.” Peter immediately corrects the thinking that this healing came from a new god or religion. You do know that Satan can counterfeit miracles. Remember, the Egyptian priests and magicians who were able to copy some of the plagues that God did through Moses (Exodus 7-8). God seems to have permitted Satan some power to counterfeit miracles. Why? I personally think it is because God wants to see if we will follow Him only for the miracle or also through the mess of life. We see this to be true in Jesus’ life when Satan was allowed to miraculously take Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem and also to a high mountain overlooking all the kingdoms of the world (Matthew 4:5, 8). I think we have become so familiar with this story that we have forgotten to recognize that it would have been a miracle to get to the top of the Temple or the world. And yet, Jesus didn’t shortcut His ministry by trusting God for the miracle of throwing Himself down from the Temple. Notice how sometimes trusting God for a miracle might not be the best thing for our lives. Jesus didn’t sin by trusting God for a miracle that violated Scripture. Instead, He trusted in God for the lesser miracle, which enabled Jesus to live a sinless and perfect life and thus do the greatest miracle of dying on a Cross for our sins and rising to new life. I find that so helpful in light of our Academy situation. We had the miracle last June of God’s provision and now we have the less obvious miracle of trusting Him for something we can’t see but have to believe will be better. I believe there will be a bigger miracle; we just can’t see it now!

This is why our faith is future but it is also historical. We look back as Peter did! Constantly throughout his sermon, Peter reminded the people that God had been working on this miracle for a long time. They just didn’t see it. Isn’t that what Peter says in verse 18? “But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.” And then in verse 22, “Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren; to Him you shall give heed to everything.” Verse 24 also says, “And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days.” As Andy Stanley reminds us, “The foundation of our faith is in an event – the Cross of Jesus Christ.”[4] This is why Peter emphasizes the prophets so much by using the word six times in verses 18-25. He grounds the miracle in the reality of what they knew to make it believable and legitimate, but explains what they didn’t know that they had missed all along. Just like the miracle of the egg I told you about earlier. Every morning as we make breakfast, we hold in our hands a miracle, we just don’t see it! Miracles are easy to overlook!

How can we explain God’s work historically? I often try to start with Creation, just because I think it gives context for God’s Big Story of what He is doing in the universe. Peter does this in a sense in verse 15 when He says that they “put to death the Author of life.” (ESV, NIV) What a mysterious statement! How can the Author of Life be killed? We can explain God’s work but we need to still leave what God leaves as mysterious without explanation. It helps people to believe in something larger than they can get their brains wrapped around. This is why I love using illustrations from nature and history that create a sense of wonder. And this is also why we should be students of nature and history. Work hard and pray for insight into how you can explain God’s work from history. For example, maybe you’re talking to somebody and they tell you that they had a major shift in their life? Maybe it was a good shift or maybe it was a bad shift? Explore it. Help the person to connect the dots of God’s hand at work in their life! Ask about their family history. This may get you to the Gospel.

But you can’t just leave it as history. You must explain God’s work personally. Notice how Peter makes God’s work personal by using the word “you.” In verse 14, He says, “But YOU disowned the Holy and Righteous One.” Jump to verse 17, “And now, brethren, I know that YOU acted in ignorance.” He makes it personal but not condemning. There is an opportunity for grace. We see this in verse 19, “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away (or “washed off”[5]), in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” We can’t explain God’s work just historically, we must make it personal to people so they can connect dots and see how it is relevant to their life. Many think religion is outdated and has nothing to do with their lives, but times of refreshing are just around the corner! Pray for insight into their lives and make it personal. Like I said to the reporters, when God has said “no” to me it has been for the best. I would have married girls that I prayed God would let me date, but instead He gave me the best.

And this is why we can’t just explain God’s work historically and personally but also need to make it practical. You must call people to action! This is what Peter did! In verse 25-26, Peter reminds them of what they have been given and what they need to do about it, “It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.” Peter was telling the people that they needed to embrace this promise while letting go of their wicked ways. As Andy Stanley says, “We must always let go of something to get something.” Call people to give up their life and they can receive the life of Christ! You won’t fully explain God’s Work until you get to Jesus and what He is offering people.

I’ll close with this story. “It is said that the theologian Thomas Aquinas once called on Pope Innocent II when the latter was counting out a large sum of money. The Pope remarked, ‘You see, Thomas, the church can no longer say, ‘Silver and gold have I none.’ Aquinas replied, ‘True, Holy Father, but neither can she now say, ‘Rise and walk.’”[6] Beloved, make the most of every opportunity for Christ by explaining God’s work of miracles all around us, like the blind man, point to the Ultimate One, Jesus Christ, who rose from the grave and walks a new life for you.

[1] Dr. Del Tackett, “Lesson 7 – Sociology: The Divine Imprint” THE TRUTH PROJECT Video Series.

[2] D.A. Carson, “The Purpose of Signs and Wonders in the New Testament,” Power Religion: The Selling of the Evangelical Church? Ed. Michael Scott Horton (Chicago: Moody, 1992), 99.

[3] Ajith Fernando, The NIV Application Commentary on Acts (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), 134.

[4] Andy Stanley, “Communicating with Unchurhed People in the Room” sermon delivered April 30, 2014 at the EXPONENTIAL CONFERENCE.

[5] John R.W. Stott, The Message of Acts (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 93.

[6] Fernando, 149.

The Greatest Speech Pathologist

This sermon can be watched or listened to at www.templebaptistchurch.ca.

What would you go out of your way to do? Would you go out of your way to purchase something you really want? Would you drive at least an hour or more just to go visit a famous store? Raise your hand if you have done that. Would you go out of your way to visit an amazing restaurant? We’ll our family has. I can recall that we heard about this BBQ place in downtown Atlanta, Georgia and so we purposely fought traffic, drove down little side streets, got turned around more than once, all to finally pull up to a little dive that had people lined up outside the door. Was it worth it? Yes! The ribs were amazing! What would you go out of your way to do? Would you go out of your way to help a friend in need? I wonder what Jesus would go of His way to do. We don’t have to wonder because we find out in Mark 7:31-37.  Read Mark 7:31-37!

Jesus will go out of His way to open up your ears to His message. What do I mean that Jesus will go out of His way? Notice that Mark 7:31 describes Jesus’ travels, “Again He went out from the region of Tyre and came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, within the region of Decapolis.” If you look at a map, you will find that Jesus went the opposite direction than one would normally go to get to Galilee. Alfred Plummer has calculated that it was probably “20-30 miles northward to Sidon”[1] whereas Galilee was southeast. This would be like us leaving our parking lot and going to north Waterloo, Ontario then across to Guelph on our way to Hamilton, Ontario. Why would Jesus do that? Plummer believes it was for giving His disciples rest, “to gain the retirement necessary for the training of the Twelve.”[2] Remember, the disciples had been trying to get some rest for some time now (6:31), but everybody kept chasing them with another need. Instead of rest, Jesus miraculously fed the 5000, walked on water to calm the disciples’ all night struggle against the waves on the Sea of Galilee, performed a miracle mania at Gennesaret, fought with the legalists over traditions and then healed a demonized girl. Jesus and His disciples needed a break. To put it in our terms, they couldn’t wait for the May long weekend. However, rest wasn’t the ultimate goal for Jesus. He didn’t take a holiday up to Sidon to see the sights, not even the glassmaking and purple dye that Sidon was famous for. Jesus’ version of a holiday wasn’t just a different pace or place but going to a different person. Meeting somebody new can be refreshing and Jesus came into this region and then the Decapolis (10 Gentile Cities) to refresh a man. Mark’s Gentile readers would have especially taken note that Jesus was going to these well-known Gentile towns. Warren Wiersbe believes that Mark’s readers would have considered these areas as “Rome away from Rome.”[3]

Two lessons we learn from Jesus’ travels. 1) He likes you so much that He will go out of His way to open up your ears to His message; and 2) When Jesus refreshes and heals people, God gets the glory. Matthew 16:30-31 summarizes Jesus’ work at this time, “And large crowds came to Him, bringing with them those were lame, crippled, blind, mute and many others, and they laid them down at His feet, and He healed them. So the crowd marvelled as they saw the mute speaking, the crippled restored, and the lame walking, and the blind seeing, and they glorified the God of Israel.” Jesus’ “vacation” resulted in glorification of God. Will our vacations? Will our holidays and vacations result in God getting more glory from the people we interact with? This question will redefine vacations and more importantly, align our expectations to God’s expectations. I know in my life that holidays and vacations can be one of most disappointing and sinful seasons in my life. Why? Because I get focused on what I want to do! I have bought into McDonald’s deceptive motto, “I deserve a break today” and then because my expectations are interrupted due to living in a world with other people’s expectations, the collision of expectations results in a messy clean-up of disappointments and running to find comfort in lesser gods. However, when you start your vacation and pray, “God, you be in charge and Christ, you live your life through me,” then you might still have to go on some detours and minister to some different people but God will be glorified. In fact, you will find yourself refreshed. Proverbs 11:25 promises in the NLT, “those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” I challenge you tomorrow on Victoria Day to go out of your way to refresh others, especially those different from you and see if on Tuesday you wake up refreshed.

Let’s go back to the first lesson. Jesus likes you so much that He will go out of His way to open up your ears to His message. Did you know that Jesus doesn’t just love you but He likes you? He is willing to go out of His way to spend time with you. We know this to be true because Jesus wants to spend time with a deaf and mute man. Spending time with a deaf and mute person would require extra work. I had a friend named Meagan who was mute and though she could hear me when we conversed, I would need to face her and make eye contact and she would need to write down her answer to my questions. The conversations always took longer than normal but they were precious. Maybe this is one of the reasons why Jesus took the man aside and touched his ears and tongue? Some commentators believe that Jesus was using a form of “sign language. He comes into the man’s cognitive world and uses terms – nonverbal speech – that he can understand.”[4] Such sign language meant communication would be personal and profound.

This is also true for those who have speech impediments, which is what this man may have had. The word translated “mute” could mean, “thick-voiced.”[5] You know what I am talking about. A hearing-impaired person’s words seem thicker. This is because our earing affects our speech and how we pronounce words. Due to a couple of my own children having difficulty with speech, I recently learned from a book by Carol Kranowitz entitled The Out of Sync Child how our sensory integration often starts in the inner ear. In other words, our coordination and being able to control our bodily functions is dependent on having the inner ear providing the right impulses to the brain. And I have watched in my own home how frustrating it is to a person when they can’t communicate and the words just won’t come. And this is why I love what Jesus does here. Jesus pulls the deaf and mute man aside from the crowd. Jesus was compassionate and wanted to help the man privately. Jesus care was highly personal and intimate. “Healing in the ancient world was a hands-on activity.”[6] Today, not enough caretakers and healers in the medical field take the time to provide that appropriate touch. Jesus took the time to touch the man. “He didn’t want the man to be a part of a miracle show.”[7] Taking the time to minister privately to somebody will always check our motives. “We should always ask whether we do ministry to win publicity for ourselves or to do good to others.”[8]

Jesus taking the time to do good and personally touch the man is instructive for us because many of us read this story and think it is weird. Jesus puts His fingers in a man’s ear and then spits on His hands and touches His tongue. Think about that! In our culture, the only time people put their fingers in another’s ears is to give them a “wet-willy.” Nobody likes that! And then to spit and put it on the tongue of another, this grosses us out. However, remember first of all that the people in Jesus’ day wouldn’t have thought this as strange. They actually brought the man to Jesus and implored or begged Him to lay His hands on the man (v. 32). We must also realize that “spittle was regarded as an important curative force in Judaism and Hellenism.”[9] “The ancient historian Tacitus tells the story of how a blind man in Alexandria was cured by the saliva of the emperor Vespasian (to Vespasian’s own surprise).”[10] Even though Vespasian’s supposed healing spit incident happened after Jesus ascended into heaven, it proves that the concept of saliva as a healing agent was accepted in the first century. Maybe Satan used Vespasian to mimic Jesus’ miracle as anti-Christ tactic? Remember as well, Jesus healed the blind man in John 9:6 using spittle to make mud to be put on the man’s eyes.  Still not buying it? Now, let’s think about when you were little. Remember when you couldn’t clean out your nose and your parents would have to help you. They were rather intrusive at times. Then think about your mom! You have had lots of her spittle on your face. She was always cleaning the parts you missed with her saliva and maybe she still does that today to you. She didn’t hawk a “loogie”; she just used some saliva to loosen up what was stuck on your face. She did it because she loves you. I’m just saying that it isn’t as weird as you think. Besides, animals use their saliva to “lick their wounds” because it is believed to be a natural disinfectant. Certainly Jesus wouldn’t have passed on any disease or germs.

Couldn’t Jesus be doing this same thing in healing the wounds of this man? Jesus saw this deaf and mute man like one of His little sons and He pulls him aside like we have to do with our kids sometimes. How do I know? Mark 7:34 describes Jesus “looking up to heaven with a deep sigh.”[11] Literally, “Jesus moaned. A moan is an expression of pain.” This is the same word that the Apostle Paul used in Romans 8:23-27 to describe how the Holy Spirit intercedes for us when we don’t know what to do and how to pray. Maybe this is why Gregory the Great commented on this passage, “The Spirit of God is called the finger of God (Luke 11:20). When the Lord put His fingers into the ears of the deaf-mute He was opening the soul of the man to faith through…the Holy Spirit.”[12] I find it comforting that Jesus would lift up a wordless prayer to intercede for a man who struggled to utter a word. Why? Because both Jesus and the Holy Spirit feel our pain when we can’t communicate to God. Maybe you are struggling right now in talking to God? You don’t know what to say. May I remind you that Jesus can relate? On the Cross Jesus groaned and experienced the silence from Heaven.

But Jesus can’t just relate to your silence, He can do something about it. In fact, only Jesus can open what others can’t (Revelation 3:7). Mark 7:34 describes Jesus telling the man, “Ephphatha!” that is “Be opened.” The Aramaic word “ephphatha” even sounds like one is slurring his or her words but Jesus, as He often does, takes what appears to be the problem and redeems it. The slur word becomes better than a secret word like “Open sesame.” Jesus is opening up the man like a skilled surgeon. You may have heard about T.D. Jakes book which was turned into a movie entitled, “Woman, thou art loosed.” This is Jesus saying, “Man, thou art loosed.” The man’s ears and tongues were opened but more important his heart. The man immediately was able to speak plainly. I love it! Jesus healed in a different way than He had before. He surprised people unlike Vespasian who he himself was surprised at the healing. Jesus also used an agent for his healing, which is why it is wrong for some to advocate that we should never go to a doctor, or a chiropractor or take a pill but just believe. Jesus used other means to heal and overcame all obstacles. Remember rebuking the sickness wouldn’t have worked because the man was deaf. As Warren Wiersbe states, “The man did not hear Jesus speak, but the creation heard the Creator, and the man was healed.”[13]

Now, I am pretty sure that there is something or somebody in your life that needs to be opened to the message of Jesus. Jesus is coming to open up your ears to His message. How do I know? Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah 35:3-6, “Encourage the exhausted and strengthen the feeble. Say to those with anxious heart, ‘Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance, the recompense of God will come but He will save you. Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will shout for joy.” “Jesus unleashes the creative and salvific power of God.”[14] Jesus came to free us from what has been holding us back from hearing Him and then declaring His message. He came to encourage the exhausted and strengthen the feeble. He came to save you and me.

Save us from what? Way beyond deafness and speech impediments! Jesus wants to save us from spiritual deafness and not being able to communicate with Him. Do you understand that our hearts are supposed to hear the message of Christ? Do you understand that there is something often blocking us from hearing that message? Lest you think that this is a problem only for the world, it is for us as well. Repeatedly, Mark says that the disciples’ hearts “were hardened” (Mark 6:52; 8:18). Even when they were doing good, their hearts were still hard such as when they fed the 4000. It is a common problem to think that we are good by doing good. Notice what the people did even though Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone about this man’s healing, “the more widely they proclaimed it. They were utterly astonished, saying, ‘He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf and mute to speak.” (Mark 7:36-37) The warning is that we can be worshipping Jesus in disobedience. Admiration and astonishment of Jesus never trumps obedience. These things evidence the depravity of our hearts. We are disabled by sin! But the Cross changed that! Jesus went far out of His way by leaving Heaven to come to earth to die for us. He came to open up our hearts to His message. Instead of a private healing, Jesus was spat upon and went through a public shameful death for you. Now, He wants to give you “melt-in-your-mouth-sweet”[15] salvation. Will you trust Him and His touch in your life today?

[1] Alfred Plummer, The Gospel According to St. Mark (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1915), 91.

[2] Plummer, 91.

[3] Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary – Volume 1 (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1989), 136.

[4] Timothy Keller, King’s Cross (New York: Dutton 2011), 93.

[5] R.C.H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Mark’s Gospel (Columbus: The Wartburg Press, 1951), 309.

[6] David Garland, The NIV Application Commentary on Mark (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 300.

[7] Garland, 303

[8] Garland, 303.

[9] William Lane, Commentary on the Gospel of Mark (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974), 267.

[10] R.T. France, The Gospel of Mark – NIGTC (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002), 298.

[11] Keller, 93.

[12] Gregory the Great, “Homilies on Ezekiel,” Thomas Oden, ed. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), 103.

[13] Wiersbe, 136.

[14] Garland, 301.

[15] Keller, 92.