Are You Done Handicapping Jesus In the Sanctuary?

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 selected passage is found in the first nineteen verses of the third chapter. When you come to this particular passage of scripture you will find Jesus once more in a place where He frequented during His public life and ministry. As you begin reading this passage of scripture you will find Jesus once more being in capernaum and once more going into the synagogue. What is both interesting and unique about that which Mark writes and records in this passage of scripture is that when writing concerning Jesus being in the synagogue he writes that Jesus went again into the synagogue. I have to admit that I absolutely love the use of the word “again,” for it speaks to the reality and suggests that Jesus was once more coming to the house where men and women gathered together to hear the word of God taught. The interesting reality concerning this is when you insider the fact that more often than not when men and women gathered themselves into the synagogues they came to sit under and hear the teaching of the law of Moses by the scribes and teachers of the law. What makes it more unique is when Jesus started showing up in the synagogue, for when Jesus showed up in the synagogue He began teaching and speaking unto those present concerning the kingdom of heaven and concerning the realities of His Heavenly Father. What’s more, is that this wasn’t the first time we find Jesus entering into the house, and this wasn’t the first time we find Jesus entering into the synagogue. This can undoubtedly be seen and witnessed with and by the fact that Mark chooses to use the word “again” when writing and speaking of Jesus being in the synagogue. How absolutely incredible and wonderful it is to consider the fact that not only did Jesus come unto and enter unto the synagogue once, but He actually came unto and entered into it a second time. When we come to the third chapter of the New Testament gospel written and recorded by Mark we find him writing and recording how Jesus didn’t merely come into and unto the synagogue, but that He came unto and entered into the synagogue one more time.

WHEN JESUS COMES TO CHURCH! WHEN JESUS COMES TO YOUR CHURCH! WHEN JESUS VISITS YOUR PLACE OF WORSHIP! As it sit here this morning and both read and consider that which is found and contained within the gospel which was written by Mark—this one who did not and had not walked with or followed Jesus—I am absolutely amazed at the account he wrote and provided concerning Jesus the Christ. When you come to the third chapter of this New Testament gospel you will find Mark writing and recording how Jesus once more and again came unto and entered into the synagogue. What’s more, is that when you read this particular passage you will find and notice something completely different from what Mark wrote when he opened up this gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Upon radiant the words which are found in the first chapter of this New Testament gospel you will find Jesus coming unto Capernaum, and upon entering into this city went straight into the synagogue. In the first chapter of this New Testament gospel of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ you will find that when Jesus entered into the synagogue there in Capernaum He taught all those who were present. What’s more is that we learn that when Jesus has finished teaching and speaking unto those who were present within this particular city all those who had heard and listened to Him speak were astonished at His doctrine, for He taught them as one having authority and not like the scribes. In other words there was a vast and fundamental difference between the way Jesus taught those who had come into and unto the synagogue and the way the scribes taught them. Imagine coming unto and entering into the synagogue expecting to hear the scribes teach you concerning the law of Moses just as they had always done only to find yourself sitting before and sitting at the feet of Jesus instead. How absolutely wonderful and remarkable it is to think how there were countless men and women who entered into the synagogue this day thinking it would be just like it had always been with the scribes teaching them from and concerning the Law of Moses, and yet instead of hearing and listening to the scribes teaching them according to the law of Moses they found themselves listening unto the words and teaching of Jesus the Christ. What a pleasant and unexpected surprise to enter into the synagogue thinking and expecting you will hear the scribes teaching you concerning the law of Moses, and yet what you find instead is Jesus Christ the Son of the living God teaching you concerning the kingdom of heaven. There is not a doubt in my mind that when those within Capernaum come unto and entered into the synagogue, they fully expected they would hear from the teachers of the law and from the scribes, and yet instead of hearing from the scribes and the teachers of the Law, they instead found themselves sitting at the feet of and listening to the words and teaching of Jesus.

I am convinced that in order for us to truly understand that which is written in the third chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark we must first turn and direct our attention back to the first chapter of the same New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. If you begin reading with and from the twenty-first verse of the first chapter you will find Mark writing and recording concerning Jesus’ entrance into the synagogue which was in Capernaum, and once in the house engaging in something completely different and completely out of the ordinary from that which those who had gathered themselves into this synagogue time and time again had experienced. The more I think about and the more I consider this particular account of Jesus entering into the synagogue which was there in Capernaum, the more I can’t help but be struck with and by the fact that that which they experienced on this particular occasion was something completely different from that which they had previously experienced. As I read the words which are found and contained within this passage of Scripture I can’t help but be struck with the fact that more often than not those who were present within the synagogue there in Capernaum were used to sitting before and hearing the teachers of the law and the scribes teaching them concerning the law of Moses, and yet on this particular occasion we find something completely and utterly different from that which they had previously experienced. I have to admit that I absolutely love the fact that when Jesus entered into the synagogue He caused them to experience something they had not previously experienced. When you read this particular passage of Scripture you will find that it was more than just the teaching which Jesus taught those who were present on this day which marked a clear and noticeable difference between that which they had previously experienced, and that which they experienced on this particular day. If you begin reading with and from the twenty-first verse of the first chapter you will find the account which Mark wrote concerning the first time Jesus entered into the synagogue of Capernum, and what transpired and what occurred on this particular day. Consider if you will the words which are found in the first chapter beginning with the twenty-first verse of the chapter:

“And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught. And they were astonished at His doctrine: for He taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes. And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came of him. And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority commandeth He even the unclean spirits, and they do obey Him. And Immediately His fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee” (Mark 1:21-28).

What is truly remarkable and unique about this passage of Scripture is not only that Jesus entered into the synagogue there in Capernaum, but that which transpired once Jesus entered into the synagogue and began teaching them. What we read and what we find in this particular passage of Scripture is not only the account of Jesus teaching in their synagogue and their being astonished at His doctrine, but we also find them being amazed at the authority He exercised—not only authority when He taught and spoke, but an authority over unclean spirits which oppressed and tormented those whom they possessed and inhabited. I find the words which are written and recorded in this passage of Scripture to be absolutely remarkable for within it we not only find Jesus teaching with authority concerning the kingdom of heaven, but we also find Jesus exercising authority over unclean spirits which were present within and among men during those days. The question I can’t help but think about and consider when I read this passage of Scripture is how often this man with an unclean spirit had come into this synagogue and had sat before the scribes and teachers of the law and listened to the law of Moses. Is it possible that the scribes and the teachers of the law were completely unaware of the presence of one among them who was tormented and vexed with and by an unclean spirit? Is it possible that the condition which this man faced and experienced did not and would not be manifested until and unless Jesus the Christ was present within the house? Is it possible that this man had entered into this synagogue before, and yet no such experience took place as that which we find and read on this particular occasion. In other words, what I am referencing and speaking of is that it is possible that this man could have entered into and sat before the teachers of the law and heard and listened to them teaching the law of Moses, and yet it did absolutely nothing to provoke the evil spirit which was present within him. This man could have spent a considerable amount of time entering into and sitting in this synagogue and hearing and listening to the teachers of the law and scribes teach concerning the law of Moses, and it never provoked, nor did it agitate that which had so tormented and oppressed him. This man could have spent a considerable amount of time entering into this synagogue and hearing and listening to the teaching of the scribes and teachers of the law, and yet it could never do anything concerning the evil spirit which so tormented and oppressed him. This man undoubtedly could have entered into the synagogue, sat before and listened to the teachers of the law teach concerning the law of Moses, and yet his condition and circumstance remained entirely untouched, unaltered and unchanged.

There is not a doubt in my mind that what we find and what we read in this particular passage of Scripture was a clear and marked break and transition from that which the people of Capernaum had normally experienced when they entered into this house of worship. I am completely and utterly convinced that when we read the words which are found and contained within this passage of Scripture we not only find Jesus teaching with authority concerning the kingdom of heaven, but we also find Jesus exercising authority over unclean spirits. It’s interesting to note that we don’t read of this man with an unclean spirit until after Mark writes and records how those present in the synagogue were astonished at the doctrine of Jesus, for He had taught as one having authority, and not as the scribes. When we first read of authority in the house we read of authority in teaching and not authority over unclean spirits. I can’t help but be completely and utterly consumed and gripped with and by this particular reality, for when we think of authority we often think of authority over unclean spirits, authority over sickness, authority over illness, and authority over that which plagues the physical bodies of men and women. Within this passage, however, we first read of astonishment at the doctrine of Jesus, for He taught as one having authority, and then we read of amazement at the authority of Jesus over unclean spirits. IN the twenty-first verse of this passage we find Jesus entering into the synagogue and teaching, and perhaps while Jesus was teaching, or after Jesus had finished teaching, all those which were present on that day were astonished at His doctrine, for they had noticed how he taught as one having authority and not as their scribes and teachers of the law. Oh, I can’t help but be directly confronted with a marked and noticeable difference between those who perhaps teach and preach before and among us in our own houses of worship, and how not much is noticed until Jesus enters into the house and begins to speak. I can’t help but be completely and utterly convinced that more often than not we don’t recognize and understand the difference between the teaching of our scribes, the teaching of our elders, the teaching of our preachers, the teaching of our ministers until Jesus shows up and begins speaking as only He can. Those which were present in the synagogue there in Capernaum had spent a considerable amount of time sitting before and listening to the scribes and teachers of the law, and undoubtedly on this particular occasion they expected more of the same—they expected the same as what they had always experienced time and time again.

What a tremendous tragedy it is to enter into the house of God and the house where you worship and expect nothing different, but only that which you have previously experienced time and time again. Permit me to ask you a question as you sit here reading this writing, and allow me to ask you whether or not you enter into the house of worship and find yourself being bored with what you have experienced and what you continue to experience on a consistent and daily basis. I am completely and utterly convinced that there are countless men and women among us in this generation who enter into the house of God and into the house of worship and find themselves being bored with the same mundane routine they have always experienced. Essentially these individuals enter into the house of worship and have absolutely no sense of anticipation and no sense of expectation for anything different and out of the ordinary from that which they have previously experienced as they gather into the house. There is not a doubt in my mind that when those from Capernaum—perhaps even those from the surrounding towns, villages and region—gathered themselves unto the synagogue there in Capernaum, they didn’t expect anything out of the ordinary, or anything different from that which they had previously experienced. The difference between that which they had previously experienced, and that which they would experience on this particular day is not only that on this day they would encounter one who would teach them having authority when he spoke, but they would also encounter one who would exercise authority over unclean spirits. I can’t help but wonder if those who were present on this particular occasion found themselves in a similar situation and position as the two men who journeyed on the road to Emmaus did when their eyes were opened, when Jesus was removed from their sight, and they looked to one another and declared how their hearts burned within them as He spoke to them along the way. I can’t help but wonder if those who were present on this particular occasion did not find their hearts burning within and inside of them upon hearing the teaching of Jesus Christ. Mark is sure to write and record how those who were present on this particular day were astonished at His doctrine, for when He taught and spoke unto them He taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes who had previously taught them. I can’t help but wonder if those who were present on this particular occasion found themselves being incredibly and increasingly convicted and challenged by the words which Jesus spoke unto them concerning the kingdom of heaven and concerning His Heavenly Father who sat upon the throne in heaven.

I absolutely love what I read and find in this particular passage of Scripture, for within it we not only find Jesus teaching as one having authority and not as the scribes and teachers of the law did, but we find Jesus exercising authority and dominion over unclean spirits. On this particular day—not only were those present on this day astonished by doctrine, but they were also amazed at authority over unclean spirits. ON this particular day those who had gathered themselves into this synagogue found themselves experiencing something drastically different from that which they had previously experienced, for on this particular occasion we find them not only sitting at the feet of Jesus and hearing Him teach and speak unto them, but we also find them witnessing Jesus exercising dominion and authority over an unclean spirit who had so tormented and oppressed one who was among them. I still cannot get over the fact that there is a strong possibility that this man had perhaps been to this synagogue before, and how no one had any idea the battle he faced within himself. I can’t help but think within my own heart and mind how many times this man could have entered into their midst, and yet there was absolutely no one among and within this synagogue who had any idea the demon he was facing—literally speaking and not figuratively. We often speak of “the demons we face,” and when I read this particular passage I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that this man didn’t battle figurative demons, but he actually battled with an actual demon and unclean spirit on a consistent and daily basis. Scripture is unclear how long this man wrestled and battled with this unclean spirit, and how long this unclean spirit had tormented and oppressed him, but we do note that on this particular occasion—perhaps in direct response to hearing the words and teaching of Jesus—the unclean spirit heard the words of Jesus and directly confronted Jesus the Christ. The way Mark writes and presents the events which transpired on this particular occasion is that the evil and unclean spirit which had tormented and oppressed this man cried out with a loud voice in direct response to hearing and listening to the teaching of Jesus and recognizing who He was. In other words, not only did Jesus’ presence in the synagogue directly confront this unclean spirit, but so also did Jesus’ teaching directly confront the unclean spirit that was present within this man. Oh, I can’t help but wonder how many men and women enter into our churches and enter into our houses of worship, and none of us have any clue what they are going through and what they are experiencing. When we read this particular passage of Scripture we don’t find Jesus exercising a word of wisdom or a word of knowledge that there was one among them who was battling oppression and tormenting from an unclean spirit, but rather the unclean spirit crying out with a loud voice in direct response to the words and teaching of Jesus. Please don’t miss the tremendous importance of what is written and contained within this passage of Scripture, for it directly reveals and speaks to the fact that there are countless men and women who enter into our services, and who enter into our churches, and yet we have absolutely no clue or idea what they are going through—what battles they are facing, what they are struggling with, and yes, even what demons they might be wrestling with.

On this particular occasion we find Jesus entering into the synagogue there in Capernaum, and upon entering into the synagogue we find Him teaching all those who were present there in the synagogue. What’s more, is that on this particular occasion we find those who had gathered together in this synagogue—not only hearing a different type of teaching from that which they had previously been used to, but also experiencing a direct confrontation between Jesus the Son of God, and an unclean spirit which had tormented and oppressed one who sat among them. I absolutely love how on this particular occasion we find those present within this synagogue experiencing something completely different from what they had previously experienced, for they were used to entering into the house and listening to the scribes and teachers of the law teaching them concerning the law of Moses and that is about it. Everything would change on this particular occasion, for not only would they experience a different type of teaching—one that would be with authority—but they would also experience authority such as they had never seen, witnessed or experienced before. Please don’t miss this incredible reality, for it shines a great deal of light on that which we find and read in the third chapter of this same New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. When you come to the third chapter of this same New Testament gospel you will find Mark writing and recording how Jesus again entered into the synagogue, and how there was a man there in the synagogue with a withered hand. The interesting thing which I can’t help but notice is the presence of this man who had the withered hand. Was this man there in the synagogue when Jesus was there previously, and on that particular occasion he wouldn’t experience and receive healing because Jesus would exercise authority and dominion over the unclean spirit? Or, is it possible that this man with the withered hand had heard about Jesus teaching with authority there in that place, as well as exercising authority and dominion over unclean spirits in that place? There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if this man hadn’t come unto the synagogue there in Capernaum because he had heard how Jesus taught them earlier on, and how Jesus had exercised authority and dominion over unclean spirits in their midst. Was it the report and fame concerning Jesus that caused this man to come to the synagogue in order that he might somehow experience and encounter Jesus the Christ? Is it possible that this man had found himself coming unto this synagogue day after day since hearing about what Jesus did previously for the man who was tormented and oppressed by an unclean spirit in hopes and expectation that he would be able to hear the teaching of Jesus, and would perhaps even experience healing within his own life.

WHEN JESUS RESTORES HOPE IN THE SANCTUARY! WHEN JESUS RESTORES EXPECTANCY IN THE HOUSE! WHEN JESUS REVIVES ANTICIPATION WITHIN THE HOUSE OF GOD! I can’t help but think that this particular man found himself coming unto and entering into the synagogue with a strong and powerful sense of expectancy and anticipation because he had heard how Jesus had previously taught with authority, and how Jesus had previously exercised authority over an unclean spirit in that very place. There is not a doubt in my mind that this man entered into the synagogue—not in order that he might hear and listen to the scribes and teachers of the law, but in order that he might experience, encounter, hear and listen to Jesus the Christ. Oh, I absolutely love the reality that what we find and what we read in the first chapter of this New Testament gospel serves as the catalyst and foundation for what we find and read in this particular passage of scripture, for this man with the withered hand undoubtedly had a strong sense of expectancy and anticipation within his heart and soul. Tell me dear brother, tell me dear sister—when was the last time you entered into the house of God with such a strong and powerful sense of anticipation and expectancy, for not only had you heard what Jesus had done previously, but you also desired that Jesus might move and operate within your life? When was the last time you couldn’t wait to enter into the house of the Lord because you couldn’t wait to experience and encounter Jesus, and truly desired that you might hear Him speak and listen to His voice as He taught those who were present? When was the last time you couldn’t wait to enter into and come unto the house of the Lord because you had heard reports and rumors that Jesus was in the house? It is necessary that we recognize and understand this particular reality, for it shines a tremendous amount of light on that which we find and read in the third chapter. It is in the third chapter where we find a man among them which had a withered hand—one who I am completely and utterly convinced had some sense of expectancy and anticipation within his heart and soul to experience and encounter Jesus the Christ. What we find in this passage, however, is not only the presence of this man with a withered hand, but we also find certain there on this particular day who watched Jesus in order that they might see what He might do and whether or not He would heal this man with the withered hand. It’s interesting to note that essentially there were two different types of anticipation which could have been present there in the synagogue. The first was the anticipation and expectation of the man with the withered hand who hoped that Jesus would heal him of his condition, and the second was those who sat there and watched whether or not Jesus would heal him on the sabbath day.

I find an incredibly tragic reality present in this particular passage of Scripture, for while it was true that Jesus was in the house, it was also true that there were those who were present on this particular day who would watch in order that they might see whether or not Jesus would heal on the sabbath day. There were those present on this day who had absolutely no interest in that which Jesus would teach and speak unto them, but rather whether or not Jesus would heal this man with a withered hand on the sabbath. WHEN RELIGION WATCHES JESUS! WHEN RELIGION SEEKS TO ACCUSW JESUS! What we find in this particular passage of scripture is religion watching Jesus closely in order that it might find reason to accuse Him. When Jesus entered into the synagogue on this particular day, it was the sabbath day, and despite it being the sabbath day, there was one among them with a condition that warranted Jesus exercising dominion and authority over that which plagued Him. How absolutely tragic and deadly it is to think about and consider the fact that there was one among them who had a condition that needed to be addressed and healed by Jesus the Christ, and the only thing religion could do was keep a careful eye on Jesus to see what He would do. Imagine Jesus being in the house where you have gathered to worship—especially when Jesus had been there previously—and yet the only thing you can find yourself doing is watching the actions and movements of Jesus to see if He would somehow violate and go against your traditions and rules in order that He might minister unto one who had a need. I can’t help wonder how many of us within the house of the Lord would seek to handicap and cripple the movement and activity of Jesus in our midst because when He moves He doesn’t operate within our boundaries or our parameters. How many times have we sought to hinder, limit and restrict the movement and activity of Jesus in our midst because what He does goes against the grain of what we think and expect, and how we want Him to act and behave? How many times do we seek to hinder and limit the activity and movement of Jesus the Christ—regardless and despite the fact that He is unlike our teachers and leaders, for He teaches as one having authority, and is able to exercise dominion and authority over that which plagues, torments and oppresses us—simply because we can’t handle Him going against the grain of that which we think and feel He should do within our midst? How many times do we carefully watch Jesus and keep a close eye on Him simply because we know He operates outside of our predefined boundaries and regulations which we have established in our midst? How many times do we seek to keep a careful eye on the movement and activity of Jesus because we know that He operates outside of our predefined rules, traditions, regulations and boundaries? Heaven help that church, those ministers, those leaders, and those men and women who not only watch the movement and ministry of Jesus the Christ in the house, but who also seek to limit, hinder and restrict His movement because He doesn’t operate the way we think and feel He should. Away with that teaching and that ministry which seeks to handicap and cripple the ministry and movement of Jesus because HE doesn’t operate within our predefined boundaries and traditions, and instead operates outside of them in order to accomplish His own work and will, and that of His Father who is in heaven.

When I read this particular passage in the third chapter of the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ I can’t help but be gripped with the fact what there are a number of churches and ministries among us today which move and operate in the same spirit as those did in Capernaum when Jesus was among them. We find in this particular passage those who were present on that day carefully watching Jesus to see if He would in fact heal this man on the sabbath day. Though it is not specifically stated in this passage we must understand that they were watching Jesus’ actions and movements in order that they might find reason to accuse Him. He had previous taught in their synagogue and they were astonished at His doctrine, and were even amazed at the authority He exercised over unclean spirits, and yet on this particular occasion, His actions could have very easily violated their traditions and expectations which they placed on Him. There is not a doubt in my mind that those present on this day—perhaps even those who were previously astonished at His doctrine and amazed at His authority—would have been willing to allow this man to remain in his present condition in order to satisfy and appease their traditions, rules and regulations. I can’t help but be completely and utterly consumed with the fact that there are men and women among us who would in fact watch Jesus’ actions and movements in our sanctuaries and in our houses of worship, this attempting to cripple and handicap Him and His ability to meet and minister to the needs of those who are among us. This man was among them with a withered hand, and in order to satisfy the sabbath regulation and appease their expectations and standards, they would have much rather let this man stay in his present condition rather than allowing Jesus to bring healing and restoration to his life. This passage begins and opens up with Jesus again being in the synagogue, and a man present on this day who had a withered hand. What I can’t help but thinking when reading this particular passage of Scripture is how this many was present within he synagogue with an anticipation and expectation within his heart and soul to encounter Jesus , and to potentially receive healing and restoration within his life, and while he was hoping to be restored and healed, there were those present who wanted nothing more than to watch Jesus’ movements and actions in order that they might accuse. ENTERING INTO THE SYNAGOGUE: ANTICIPATING OR ACCUSING? The question I can’t help but find myself asking when reading this portion of Scripture is whether or not we enter into the sanctuary and enter into the house of God with an accusing heart, or with an anticipatory heart—a heart that is hopeful and expectant that the living God can in fact show up and show off within our lives. There is not a doubt in my mind that if those who watched Jesus’ movements and actions in the synagogue could have handicapped and crippled Him from healing this man, they would have happily done so. What we find is their careful watching of Jesus to see whether or not he would heal this man on the sabbath day, and thus find reason and grounds to accuse Him. What a tragic moment it is when we would rather enter into the house of the Lord carefully watching and scrutinizing the actions and movements of Jesus in order that we might accuse Him when He doesn’t move and operate within our clearly defined boundaries and boxes. Oh that we would read this passage of Scripture and allow our hearts to be throughly convicted and challenged by the Holy Spirit in order that we might always keep ourselves in the place of anticipation and expectation rather than accusation.

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