Astonished At Doctrine & Amazed By Authority

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as recorded by Mark. More specifically, today’s passage is found beginning with verde forty through the twelfth verse of the second chapter. When we come to this particular portion of scripture we not only find the first chapter of the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus as recorded by Mark coming to a close, but we also find the second chapter opening and beginning. What I am absolutely amazed by when I read this particular passage of scripture is how much Mark packs into the first chapter alone. What begins and opens up with an emphatic statement concerning “the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” would quickly transition to a brief snapshot of the events leading up to His life and ministry. Immediately after opening up this book with a statement concerning the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God, Mark then presents us with a brief snapshot of the life and ministry of John the Baptist who was the forerunner and divine messenger of and for the Lord Jesus Christ. Mark brings us face to face with the fact that John the Baptist was that one who was spoken of and foretold by the Old Testament Hebrew prophet Isaiah who prophesied and foretold his coming. Immediately after bringing us face to face with the ministry of John the Baptist to prepare the way for the life and ministry of Jesus, Mark then transitions to writing concerning Jesus coming unto John when he was baptizing men and women at the river Jordan to Himself he baptized. Mark records the same event as that which the apostle Matthew wrote and recorded—namely, that when Jesus emerged from the waters of baptism, the heavens were opened and not only did a voice speak from heaven, but so also did the Spirit descend upon Jesus in the physical and bodily form of a dove. After Jesus had emerged from the waters of baptism, immediately after the heavens were opened and Jesus not only heard the voice of the Father speaking unto Him and the Holy Spirit descending upon Him, Mark writes and records for us how Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where He would be tempted by the devil for forty days and forty nights. After overcoming the temptation of the devil in the wilderness Jesus emerged from the wilderness victorious over sin, over temptation, as well as the devil. What comes next is the encounter between Jesus and two sets of brothers as He called them to a life of following and walking with Him.

As you continue reading the first chapter of the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as recorded by Mark you will find Jesus entering into the synagogue and opening His lips and mouth to reach those who were present. What Mark writes and records concerning Jesus teaching in the synagogue is that those who were present on that day were astonished at, with and by His doctrine, for He taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes did. Without getting ahead of myself in this particular writing you will notice within the first chapter of this gospel account written by Mark a wonderful and powerful emphasis on the awe, the amazement and astonishment of men and women with Jesus the Christ. This is actually quite interesting, for its almost as if Mark is attempting to bring us face to face with the beauty and splendor of the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s almost as if Mark—this one who did not walk with or follow Jesus—was Himself so in awe and in amazement with and by the person of Jesus Christ that he wanted to make sure we came face to face with the tremendous awe and wonder surrounding the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. In fact, I can’t help but think and believe that that which Mark sought to do was to bring his readers to the place where they would stand in awe of the beauty; the majesty, the splendor, the wonder of the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s almost as if Mark Himself saw the beauty and wonder of the Lord Jesus Christ and sought to bring his readers into that same place within their hearts and lives. In fact the picture which we encounter and see within this particular gospel is one that is absolutely remarkable and astonishing when you consider that which Mark sought to fulfill and accomplish in the hearts and minds of his readers. Mark set forth to present a wonderful and beautiful picture of the lord Jesus Christ, and sought to bring His readers into the place where they would be utterly and completely captivated with and by the beauty of the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s as if this one who neither walked with nor talked with Jesus Christ Himself was so caught up and immersed with and by the person of Jesus Christ that he set forth to bring his readers into the very same place within their own hearts and lives as they read the words within this gospel and were captivated by the beauty of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is not a doubt in my mind that when Mark wrote the words which we find in this particular gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ that he sought to bring us face to face with the awesome beauty and wonder of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to be completely and utterly captivated by Him.

Tell me dear brother, tell me dear sister—when was the last time you were truly captivated with and by the beauty and splendor of the Lord Jesus Christ? When was the last time you literally stood in awe of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? When was the last time you simply entered into the sanctuary and simply stood in awe as you were captivated and caught up with and by the awesome wonder and beauty of the living Christ who purchased your salvation and redemption with and by His blood? When was the last time you spent even fifteen minutes without uttering a single word from your lips and from your mouth and simply stood in awe of the beauty and wonder of the living Jesus who is the Christ and the Son of the living God? I am completely and utterly convinced that there is a great and wonderful need within many of our churches today for those who are truly willing to allow themselves to be captivated by the beauty and splendor of the living Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. What’s more, is I am convinced that there is a true lack of awe, wonder and splendor within the hearts and spirits of men and women who enter into the house of the living God to worship Him. Furthermore, I am directly confronted with the question of how much of our worship is truly based upon our being captivated by the matchless wonder, beauty and splendor of the living Jesus the Christ. How many among us can truly and emphatically state and declare that this is our regular Christian experience within our daily lives—both in our personal and private times of devotion, as well as when we engage ourselves in corporate worship with the body of Jesus Christ? The more I sit here and ponder this particular reality, the more I am confronted with the words which the psalmist wrote in the eighty-fourth chapter of the Old Testament book of Psalms, as well as the words which the psalmist David wrote in the twenty-seventh chapter of the same Old Testament book. I am convinced that when you read each of these chapters you will be brought face to face with your own need and desire to allow yourselves to be caught up and captured by the tremendous beauty and splendor of the Lord Jesus Christ. What’s more, is that this takes on a whole new meaning when you consider the words which are written and recorded in the twenty-seventh and eighty-fourth chapters of the Old Testament book of Psalms with the words which the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wrote concerning Jesus the Christ. Consider if you will the words which are found in each of these respected passages:

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion: in the secret of his Tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me upon a rock. And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his Tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord. Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up. Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies. Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty. I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord” (Psalm 27:1-14).

“How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yea, even fainted for the courts of the Lord: My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King, and my God. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Delay. Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them. Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also fillets the pools. They go from strength to strength, every one of the them in Zion appeared before God. O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer: Give ear, O God of Jacob. Delay. Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed. For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk up rightly. O Lord of hosts, Blessed is the man that trusteth in thee” (Psalm 84:1-12).

As you read each of these passages you will find that David, as well as the other psalmist who wrote the words contained within each of these chapters found themselves in a place of divine awe and wonder before the living God. Both David and this other psalmist found themselves completely and totally overwhelmed with and by the beauty and splendor of the living God, and could not help but express their being overwhelmed with and by His beauty and splendor. When writing the words which are found in the twenty-seventh chapter of this particular book of Psalms, David declared how one thing he desired of the Lord, and that one thing will he seek after—namely, that he may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple. What’s more, is that if you continue reading this particular passage you will find that David goes on to speak concerning the Lord, and how the Lord invited him to seek his face, and how he responded by emphatically declaring that his face will he seek. Essentially—not only do we find within this passage a wonderful and powerful description and declaration concerning David and his desire to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple, but he would also make it his single ambition and pursuit to seek the face of the living God in the land of the living. Tell me dear brother, tell me dear sister—when was the last time such language and such an expression of awe, amazement and astonishment truly gripped your heart and moved you to the very depths of your being? When was the last time you were truly captivated with and by the beauty of the living God, and could not help but seek His face when He invited you to seek it? When was the last time you found yourself standing in the place where the only thing you desired was to dwell in the courts of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple? When was the last time you were so incredibly caught up with and consumed by the awesome splendor and majesty of the living God that you could not help but simply seek His face, and dwell in His temple to behold His beauty, and to inquire of Him? This reality is further expressed when you read the eighty-fourth chapter of the same Old Testament book of Psalms, for within his passage we find the psalmist expressing delight and pleasure in the living God, and in His courts. The psalmist expresses how amiable and how beautiful are the tabernacles of the Lord of hosts, and how their soul longs and even faints for the courts of the Lord. What’s more, the psalmist goes on to declare that their heart and flesh cry out for the living God. What’s more, is that the psalmist goes on to declare how better is a single day in the courts of the Lord than a thousand elsewhere, and how they would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of their God than to dwell in the tents of the wicked. Both David, as well as the sons of Koran were completely and utterly overwhelmed with and by the beauty, the splendor and the majesty of the living God, and could not help but express their delight, their pleasure, and the desire for the living God.

Before we get into the words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament epistle which was written unto the Hebrews concerning Jesus the Christ, I feel it necessary and imperative to journey to one more chapter within the Old Testament book of the Psalms concerning Jesus the Christ. If you turn and direct your attention to the sixty-third chapter of the Old Testament book of the Psalms you will find another psalm written by David concerning his sheer and utter delight in the living God, and a wonderful and powerful expression of that delight and pleasure. If you begin reading with and from the first verse of the chapter you will find the following words which were written by David as he once again sought to express the tremendous delight and pleasure he had within his heart and soul. Consider if you will the words which David king of Israel and psalmist wrote in this particular chapter beginning with the first verse of the chapter:

“O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longest for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; to see thy power and thy glory. So as I have seen thee in the sanctuary . Because thy loving kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: when I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholders me. But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth. They shall fall by the sword: they shall be a portion for foxes. But the king shall rejoice in God; every one that sweareth by Him shall glory: but the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped” (Psalm 63:1-11).

Pay attention to what is written and found within this particular passage of Scripture, for David opens up his heart and soul before the living God and declares how not only does his soul thirst for the living God, but so also does his flesh long for Him in a dry and thirsty land where no water is. What’s more, is that David would go on to write and declare how eh longed and desired to see the power and the glory of the living God, as He had seen Him in the sanctuary. The words which we find within this particular passage are completely and utterly incredible and remarkable when you consider the tremendous delight and pleasure David had in the true and living God. As I sit here this morning I am completely and utterly convinced that one of the greatest needs within the hearts and souls of countless men and women who enter into the sanctuary and house of the living God in this generation is true, genuine and authentic delight in the true and living God. I am completely and utterly convinced that what is so desperately missing from within the hearts and souls of countless men and women who enter into the house of the Lord and who enter into His courts is a wonderful sense of delight and pleasure in the living God. There is a great and wonderful need for men and women to once more find the place of sheer and utter delight and pleasure in the living God, and to allow themselves to be completely and utterly caught up in that place of delight and pleasure—not only when they enter into the sanctuary of the living God, but also when they enter into and engage themselves in their private time of worship and devotion before the living God. There is a wonderful need within our hearts and our souls to find that expression of delight and pleasure in the living God, as well as in the person of His Christ, and to be overwhelmed with the desire to express that overflow from the very depths of our heart and soul. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that as I am sitting here this morning there is a great need within my own heart and soul to enter into that place of true and genuine desire, delight and pleasure before the living God—that place where I desire nothing more than to dwell in his courts and to inquire of Him within His temple. There is a great and wonderful need within my own heart and soul to find that place of supreme delight and pleasure in the living God in order that I might be completely and utterly captivated with and by His beauty, His splendor and His wonder. With that being said, I can’t help but tie all of this together with the words which the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wrote in the epistle they wrote. Beginning with the first verse of the twelfth chapter you will find the following words written by the author of the New Testament epistle which was sent unto the Hebrews:

“Wherefore seeing we also are compasses about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” (Hebrews 12:1-3).

When I read and consider the words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament epistle which was written unto the Hebrews I cannot help but come face to face with the tremendous reality that the author was seeking to bring their readers to the place where—not only did they run with patience and endurance the race that was set before them, but they also looked unto Jesus who was the author and finisher of their faith. Essentially, that which the author of this particular epistle was seeking to do was to encourage us as we run the race which was set before us, but also to instruct us that as and while we are running the race which is set before us, we are to look unto and fix our eyes upon Jesus the Christ, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, demising the shame, and is now set down at the right hand of the throne of God. I am completely and utterly convinced that one of the greatest needs we have is to allow ourselves to be completely caught up in the beauty, the splendor, and the majesty and wonder of Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God. I am convinced that when we read the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as written and recorded by Mark, we are brought face to face with the tremendous and wonderful reality of not only being astonished at the doctrine of Jesus, but also to be amazed by, with and at the wonderful works which He performed and engaged Himself in among men. What’s more, is that I am convinced that there must be an expression of delight, of joy, of pleasure, and of wonder and amazement in Jesus the Christ, and there is within this passage of Scripture a wonderful picture of what that looks like within the life of Jesus the Christ Himself. If you begin reading with and from the thirty-fifth verse of the first chapter of this New Testament gospel of Mark you will find the following words written and recorded by Mark concerning Jesus the Christ:

“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. And Simon and they that were with Him followed after Him. And when they had found Him, they said unto Him, All men seek for thee. And He said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth. And He preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils” (Mark 1:35-39).

I absolutely love reading the words which Mark wrote in this particular passage of Scripture, for although they were written concerning Jesus the Christ and His own personal time of devotion before the Father, they nonetheless present us with a wonderful and powerful example of our own expression of delight and pleasure in the true and living God. Mark writes and records how in the morning Jesus rose up a great whole before day—most likely before the sun even began to rise in the eastern sky—in order that He might go out and depart into a solitary place where He could pray before and pray unto His Father. What we find within this passage of Scripture is truly wonderful and truly remarkable, for it brings us face to face with the awesome and incredible reality of Jesus’ desire to spend time in fellowship and communion with His Father, as well as His sheer and utter delight in the living God. What we find within this passage—though it was written concerning Jesus the Christ and His own personal relationship with the Father who was in heaven—is a wonderful expression of delight and pleasure with the living God, as Jesus engaged Himself in prayer, in fellowship, in communion and in worship before the living God. I am sitting here right now and I know that the expression of my worship, the expression of my delight and my pleasure in Jesus the Christ, and in His beauty, in His wonder, and in His splendor is not where it should be. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is a great need within my own heart and soul to delight in the true and living God, and to allow myself to be completely and utterly amazed and astonished with and by Him. With that being said, I find the expression of astonishment and amazement recorded within the New Testament gospel of Mark to be something we must carefully consider and pay close attention to, for within the first and second chapters—not only do we find men being astonished at the doctrine of Jesus the Christ as He taught them as one having authority, but we also find men and women being utterly and completely amazed and marveling at the tremendous works and mighty power He exercised and displayed among men within the earth. ASTONISHED BY DOCTRINE AND AMAZED BY POWER! When I read the words which are written and recorded within this particular gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, I can’t help but come face to face with the awesome and tremendous reality that not only were men astonished at the doctrine of Jesus—that which was at the very heart and center of His life, His teaching and His ministry, and that which was expressed before those who gathered themselves to hear and listen to Him teach and speak, and those who came unto Him in order that they might witness His tremendous power in healing the sick, casting out devils, and the like. Within the first two chapters of the New Testament gospel concerning Jesus the Christ—not only do we find men being astonished at the doctrine of Jesus when they heard Him teach and speak, but we also find them being amazed at the tremendous power and authority He exercised and displayed over sickened, over disease, and even over devils and evil spirits themselves as He cast them out.

As I sit here this morning I can’t help but be directly and completely confronted with and by the fact that it is not be coincidence that Mark first records how men were astonished at the doctrine of Jesus the Christ before writing concerning men being amazed at the authority and power Jesus exercised over sickness and evil spirits. Within the first two chapters of the New Testament gospel concerning the Lord Jesus Christ we find Mark writing how men were first astonished at the doctrine of Jesus, for doctrine must always precede power and authority. In our Christian circle, and in many of our churches and houses of worship we have it completely and utterly backwards, for we think and believe that authority and power precede doctrine. In fact, there are many within the churches today who allow themselves to get caught up and swept away in authority and power over sickness, over infirmity, over illness, over evil spirits and demons, and even over death, and there is very little room for astonishment at doctrine. What’s more, is that there are countless ministries within Christianity today that place a greater emphasis on authority and power over sickness and evil spirits than they do with doctrine. Countless men and women would much rather find themselves witnessing and experiencing authority and power over sickness, over disease, over infirmity, over illness, over death, and over evil spirits than doctrine and right thinking about the living God. In all reality, I would dare say that the greatest expression of worship and faith within our hearts and lives is right thinking about the living God. I am convinced that there is no truer expression of faith and worship before and unto the living God than in our ability to think rightly about God and to believe correctly and properly. Oh consider what would happen if we devoted our time, our attention, our enumerated and our focus on thinking properly and correctly about Jesus the Christ, and diligently striving to make sure that our doctrine is correctly and properly founded upon that which is contained within the Scriptures. Consider how our worship before and worship of the living God would be completely transformed and would completely transcend that which we have normally experienced if we devote our time, our effort, our energy, our attention and our focus on correctly and rightly thinking about Jesus the Christ, and of the living God who sits upon the throne of God. Within the. New Testament gospel of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as recorded by Mark we not only find men and women being astonished at the doctrine of Jesus Christ, but we also find them being amazed at the authority and power He exercised over sickness and over evil spirits who were tormenting and oppressing men and women. In the twenty-second verse of the first chapter we find and read “And they were astonished at His doctrine: for He taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes” (Mark 1:22). In the twenty-seventh verse of the same chapter we find the following words “And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority commandments He even the unclean spirits, and they do obey Him” (Mark 1:27). In the twelfth verse of the second chapter of this New Testament gospel we find the following words “And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion” (Mark 2:12).

In the first chapter of this New Testament gospel of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ we find Jesus teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum, and as men listened to and heard Him teach and speak, they were astonished with and by His doctrine. As you continue reading this particular gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will find Jesus rebuking and driving out an unclean spirit from a man who was present within the synagogue at Capernaum. At the end of the first chapter we find a leper coming unto Jesus beseeching Him to make him clean, and was made clean and made whole by Jesus as Jesus expressed delight and pleasure in making him clean and whole once more. When you come to the second chapter of this particular gospel you will find four men seeking to bring one who was sick with the palsy unto Jesus, only to find that the way to Jesus was blocked because of the press before Jesus. Determined to get this man into the presence of Jesus and before His face, these four uncovered the roof and broke it apart in order that they might let the man down before Jesus. Mark writes and records that Jesus upon seeing their faith declared unto the man that his sins were forgiven, and then upon knowing the thoughts within the hearts and minds of the scribes who were there, Jesus proceeded to instruct the men to rise up from his bed, take up the mat upon which he was lying upon, and go his way unto his house. The twelfth verse reveals how immediately the man arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all. As the twelfth chapter ends and concludes, we find those present on this day all standing in amazement and glorifying God declaring one to another who they had never seen it before in this fashion. Oh, please don’t miss the tremendous significance and importance of this particular reality, for what began with astonishment at the doctrine of Jesus would transition to amazement at the authority and power He exercised over sickness, as well as over unclean spirits. We dare not miss and/or lose sight of this, for I am convinced that just as surely and just as much as there is a tremendous need to be astonished with and by the doctrine of Jesus Christ, we must also be amazed at the authority and power which He exercises and displays over sickness, over evil spirits, and over everything that torments, oppresses, and keeps us in bondage within our lives. The danger we face is to allow ourselves to be so caught up with authority and power over sickness and evil spirits, and so caught up with signs, wonders and miracles that we have absolutely no room or place for doctrine. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we come to terms with the fact that there is a great need within our hearts and lives to first be astonished at doctrine and to come to Jesus from a place of doctrine in order that we might think rightly about both He and the Father who is in heaven, and then allow ourselves to be caught up and amazed at the authority and power He has within our lives to heal us of that which torments, oppresses and keeps us in bondage. Those present during Jesus’ day were astonished at His doctrine, but they were also amazed at the tremendous power and authority He exercised over evil spirits and over sickness and infirmity. Oh that we would allow ourselves to be caught up in the beauty, the wonder and the splendor of Jesus the Christ—that we would be astonished at doctrine and amazed by authority—and that we would find ourselves in a wonderful place of desire, delight and pleasure in the true and living God, and in His Christ.

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